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.
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Some years ago in a homily, I told of standing at the bedside of a priest-friend who was dying, and wrestling with one of the questions that naturally arise at such a moment: What really awaits us after death? One of my parishioners wondered if I doubted the resurrection of the body. I reassured him that I did believe in life after death, but was simply being honest about what I felt as my friend was dying.
Today's Gospel of the raising of Lazarus is the last of the three stories we use to prepare candidates for Baptism at Easter and it's the most dramatic. Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the tomb, still tightly wrapped in his burial bands. "Untie him," Jesus commands, "and let him go free."
We speak of "being buried" in the waters of Baptism. Scripture scholar Raymond Brown suggests that Lazarus represents the ultimate challenge for those who are baptized in Christ: the encounter with death itself.
As I stood at the bedside of my dying colleague, I saw a look of peace on his face. Though he could not speak, he was testifying that he had faced the test and was ready to meet the Lord. May each of us hear the voice of Jesus in our final moments of life, inviting us to come forth and be set free.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• In the first reading (Ez 37:12-14), through Ezekiel God tells the people: “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” Is God talking about actual death or about spiritual death? What is the difference?
What is God’s promise to the people?
• In this week's second reading (Rom 8:8-11), St. Paul contrasts living in the flesh to living in the spirit? What is the difference?
What is Paul teaching to the people reading this letter (including us)?
• In the Gospel, we hear about Jesus’ friend Lazarus, who was very sick. What did his sisters Martha and Mary do?
By the time Jesus gets there, Lazarus is already dead. Jesus tells Martha that he is the resurrection and the life and that everyone who believes in him will never die. The question for us is: Do we believe in Jesus?
Why did Jesus weep? How have you felt when you learned someone in your family had died?
The Gospel then tells us about what Jesus did in bringing Lazarus back to life. How would you feel if Lazarus was your brother and Jesus raised him from death?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• This week's Gospel seems very timely given what we are going through with the coronavirus pandemic. Pray for an end to this pandemic. You can find prayers specific to the current situation on the Vatican website as well as the US bishops' site. There are also prayers on our Faith and Family website at https://info.franciscanmedia.org/prayers-and-novenas