Fifth Sunday of Lent

In today’s Gospel, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

The name Lazarus means “God is my help” or “one whom God has helped.”  This recalls for us Psalm 121:2: “My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.”  This is also part of the blessing often done by a bishop at the end of Mass.

Jesus helps Lazarus.  But he does so to demonstrate his divinity.  Jesus says, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  His illness will include death.  But, because of the miracle that Jesus will perform, it will not end in death.

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  Is this the greatest thing that he could for Lazarus?  No, the greatest thing would be to give him eternal life.  Instead, Lazarus is raised from the dead and must die a physical death again later.  This miracle means that Lazarus gets to die twice.

The greatest thing that Jesus does is to suffer and die on the cross for our sake.  He redeems us.  By his Resurrection, he conquers death and opens up eternal life for us.  Extending life on earth by a few years has no comparison with the promise of eternal life in union with God.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is not what we proclaim as Christians.  The heart of our proclamation is Christ’s Resurrection.  Something that transcends this world.  Something that is necessarily preceded by a willingness of God the Son to die for our sins.

Are we open to the reality of those actions of God which radically transform, or even transcend, our world?  How are we seeking the things that help us toward eternal life?