HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT
Readings: Ez. 37:12-14/ Rom. 8:8-11
Gospel: Jn. 11:1-45
“And Jesus Wept.” In the world of Trivia it is the smallest sentence in the Bible and yet it has the most meaning, not only during the Lenten Season but throughout the entire ministry of Christ. Most of the emotions that we hear the Jesus displayed were of compassion, anger, love and tenderness toward the others that had come to ask for his aid. He was willing and able to help anyone in need of assistance. But in the Gospel proclaimed today from the Eleventh Chapter of the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus wept. Why? Why was it that he wept? Was it for his friend or his disciples or the Jews or for himself? While we think we know (as did those who saw this) we can only begin to try to understand what was going on in his mind. What we do know is that even in the moments that God shows his glory, the humanity of Christ will come to us. What was John trying to tell his readers (and us) by making this a point in the story of Lazarus? This answer can be multi-faceted, but with a simple conclusion.
“And Jesus Wept” for his friend. He was the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Lazarus was getting sick and was not getting any better. His sisters sent someone to Jesus to tell him that he was dying and if he wanted to see him one more time, then he should come now. Jesus could have gotten up and left right away, but he decided to stay a few more days where he was. They had just left Judea, where he had trouble with the Jews before, and was almost stoned to death.
But that was not the primary reason for his staying. Like the blind man that he gave sight, Jesus saw Lazarus as a way for the Son of God to be glorified. But to do that, he had to stay put, letting his divinity dictate to his humanity the dictates of his Father in Heaven. Jesus the man wanted to be with his friend, but Jesus the Christ did the will of his Father.
“And Jesus wept” for his disciples. When Jesus told the disciples of his plans to return to Judea and be with his friends Mary and Martha, he told them that Lazarus was asleep and he is going to wake him up. The disciples took this meaning literally.
After all the times that they listened to his stories and parables, they still could not understand Jesus’s meaning. Frustrated, he told them the Lazarus was dead. Their disbelief if Jesus as the Son of God came to a head in his mind, for it was this moment that he understood that if they had gone when they were told of Lazarus’ illness, they may not have been able to truly accept Jesus as the Son of God. Like the moment Jesus returned from the wilderness before beginning his ministry, Jesus returns from outside to display his glory to the Chosen people. It is with some surprise that it was Thomas (called Twin) who had doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead, accepted that in order to believe, they had to return with Jesus to Judea.
“And Jesus wept” for the crowd. The Jews remembered the miracles Jesus performed, in particular giving the blind man his sight at the pool of Siloam. They felt that if he had gotten here sooner, he could have performed the same sort of miracle. The Jews still saw him as a prophet and miracle worker and nothing more. Jesus’ frustration with their lack of faith caused him so much pain that he moved away from them upon his arrival and went to the cave.
He had hoped that the Jews would have come to the point that Paul wrote about in his Letter to the Romans: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Jesus would have hoped they would have the spirit of God in them. It turns out; they were still living by the Word of God and the Law of Moses, only.
“And Jesus wept” in gratitude to his Father. He knew that the moment that he heard that Lazarus was ill and prepared to die that he would do something. Jesus met Mary and Martha separately, but both said the same thing to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would still be alive.” It was then, I believed, that Jesus heard God and that he would restore the life of Lazarus. So he asked them both if they believed in him. In their own way they said yes, Martha by words and Mary, as before, by her tears that had washed the dirt from his feet at an earlier meeting. Jesus assured them that he would bring him back to life because he “was the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will never die.”
When he went to the cave, he thanked his Father for hearing him. “Thank you for hearing me,” he said. “I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they believe that you sent me.” At that moment, Jesus cried out to Lazarus to come out of the cave. He walked out, tied hand and foot, and appeared to the crowd. Jesus told someone to untie him so that he could return to his family; to his community; to his faith.
“And Jesus wept” for us all today; those of us who have not seen and yet believe. As we continue our journey of faith, we strive to believe that Jesus is our Messiah, our savior, as much as he was the Messiah of the chosen people. For us, that means we not only believe and accept his presence in the Body and Blood we partake at communion, but also proclaim this acceptance to the world. We must show our belief that Jesus is the Son of God as we freely and joyfully partake in the Sacraments of the Church handed down to us by Christ.
Many of these stories are the basis of our continuation of our ministry of faith that we received from our baptism, strengthen in our confirmation, enhanced in our reconciliation and fortified through our communion as we go out into the world. Just like Lazarus, Jesus asks the Church to untie us and let us go. The Church is to be our removal of our bindings that the world places on us. However, we think those bonds are part of our freedom on earth. It is a false sensation. When we act in the spirit and not the flesh, we become one in the Spirit and will be given true life, a life in Christ.
“And Jesus wept.” Three words that mean more than what is on the surface. It is in these words that the whole of salvation is contained. Jesus is all God and all man; these words prove that. “And Jesus wept”; more than trivia. More than a release of emotions. It is true salvation.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK