26th March 2023
5th Sunday of Lent
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will never die.
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“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.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
The death of Lazarus can be seen as a symbolic representation of the soul that has died from mortal sin.
One lesson we can take from this passage is that when you or a loved one falls into grave sin, it must not be ignored. Final impenitence is a sin by which a person fails to have appropriate remorse for sin and reacts to it in a dismissive and casual manner. This cannot be our reaction. Begin by considering the great value of taking sin seriously, reacting to it with passion and emotion, and crying out to God for forgiveness.
When Jesus cried out, commanding Lazarus to come out of the tomb, the details were added that Lazarus did come forth but was still bound “hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.” Saint Augustine teaches that, in part, this symbolises the entire process of confession and the forgiveness of sins.
First, no person is capable of confessing their sins by their own effort. It must be that they are moved by grace and the command of our Lord to come forth to show themselves in their bound state to God.
Lazarus’ obedience to Jesus’ command symbolises the Christian’s response to God when called to repentance. When our Lord says, “Untie him and let him go,” this symbolises the unmerited effect of the Sacrament of Confession and the power it has to release a person not only from their sins but also from the ongoing effects of those sins.
Our Church teaches that sin has a double consequence.
First, it keeps us from eternal salvation. This effect is remedied through Confession and forgiveness.
However, there is a second effect called “temporal punishment” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1471–1473). This “punishment” is not from God, but from sin. It means that when we sin, even in a less serious way, we become attached to that sin and that the ongoing temptation to return to it is strengthened. Thus, ongoing conversion also means we hear our Lord say, “Untie him and let him go.” This is especially accomplished by ongoing conversion and growth in virtue.
Reflect, today, upon the rich symbolism found in the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. As you do, listen for the passionate voice of Jesus who calls to you personally in today’s Gospel,
What sin is Jesus calling you to be free from? Identify that sin and repent of it with the same passion that our Lord exhibits. From there, consider any ongoing temptation you struggle with and any attachment you still have toward a particular sin. Jesus desires that you be completely unbound and set free. Be open to that grace and do all you can to accept it.
My merciful and passionate Lord, You command me, in love, to come forth from all sin. And when I respond, You command that the effects of my past sins be removed. Please free me, dear Lord, from all that binds me so that I will be set firmly on the glorious road of virtue that leads to eternal joy. Jesus, I trust in You.
From Catholic Daily Reflections.com