Jesus miraculously raises Lazarus from the dead. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Fruit of Faithfulnessfrom the Holy Spirit so he can always trust God’s Will during severe suffering and by building the Virtue of Prayer so he can learn to pray with confidence at all times. 

Liturgy

5th Week of Lent – Sunday – Cycle A – Jn 11:1-45

Commentary

Following the attempts to stone Jesus at the mid-winter Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah, a celebration of Judas Maccabee’s cleansing and rededication of the Temple), Jesus safely withdrew from Jerusalem and received word from Mary and Martha of Bethany that their brother Lazarus was ill. Knowing Lazarus’ illness is fatal, Jesus waits for two days for Lazarus to die and be buried before traveling to Bethany, so He may do the Father’s will; Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead so the “Son of God may be glorified” and the Apostles “may believe.” The Apostles are acutely aware that drawing near to Jerusalem will be dangerous, saying amongst themselves, “let us go, that we may die with Him.”

When Jesus arrived, Lazarus’ body had been in the tomb for 4 days, confirming he is really dead and beginning to decay, and that his soul has departed; the delay also results in a large number of Jews from Jerusalem to gather to mourn who will witness and spread the word of Jesus’ miracle. Martha expresses an imperfect faith, failing to understand that Jesus is God. Jesus corrects her, and Martha faithfully confirms her new understanding, calling Jesus, the “Son of God”, but she does not fully understand for she will soon worry about the smell of death from the tomb.

Jesus summons Mary, who runs and falls weeping at Jesus’ feet, expressing her faith that He could have saved Lazarus; a crowd of mourners follow. Jesus weeps in compassion, causing the Jews to think He was too late to save Lazarus. Coming to the tomb, Jesus orders the stone rolled away. Martha is concerned about the stench of death, causing Jesus to gently remind her, that, if she has faith, He will reveal the glory of God. After giving God the Father glory so the Jews can hear, Jesus thunders, “Lazarus, come out!”, and Lazarus returns to life; Jesus tells the people to unbind him. The miracle causes many Jews to believe; some go the Pharisees in Jerusalem and report the incident. Ironically, by raising Lazarus to life, Jesus sets in motion His own death on the Cross. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be grateful for the Son of God’s gracious willingness to take on Human Nature and His perfect demonstration of Emotion (CCC 470-483): He has deep Empathy and personal Compassion for many, including Lazarus, Martha, and Mary; He has Joy (gladness) for the chance to build the faith of the disciples by raising Lazarus from the dead; He experiences Sorrow at the pain and suffering of Mary and Martha. 

Trust in God’s Will during severe suffering

Realize: As Martha and Mary have difficulty in accepting God’s will when Lazarus dies, many men can find it extremely difficult to accept God’s will when severe and unexplainable suffering occurs in their lives or the lives of loved ones.

Believe: Reflect upon the petition in the Our Father, Thy Will be done…(CCC 2822-2827).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruit of Faithfulness so that I always remain joyful and trust in Your gracious Will, especially during times of unexplainable suffering. 

Pray with confidence at all times

Realize: Like the Blessed Virgin Mary’s simple statement of the need at the Wedding of Cana (“They have no wine”), Mary and Martha’s “prayer” to Jesus simply states the need (“Lazarus is ill”). 

Believe: Reflect upon Intercessory Prayer (CCC 2634-2636).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Prayer, help me build the Virtue of Prayer (a part of Justice) so I pray to You every day, confident in Your promise that You will hear and answer my petitions.