We are now in the fifth or the Last Sunday of Lent. All throughout Lent, as well as in Holy Week, our SPECIAL focus is Jesus. SO it’s worth looking back how is Jesus portrayed in all the gospels that were read in the previous Sundays of Lent. On the first Sunday we have Jesus who was tempted by satan, in many ways to think of himself only. Second Sunday, we have Jesus tempted by Peter not to go on to fulfil his mission. “Master, it’s good that we are here, I will build 3 tents”. We’ll just stay here. Third Sunday, we have Jesus talking to a non-Jew, to an enemy of the Jews, so to speak…to the Samaritan woman…saying to us that God wants to reach out to all people no matter what, and no matter who. Fourth Sunday, we have Jesus giving sight to the blind man, telling us that He really is the light of the world. And today’s gospel we have Jesus, raising Lazarus, “the helpless”, his friend from the dead.
We might ask, why Lord? Why do you have to do all these?
And we can assume his answer. Most likely, he would say, “Because I love you.”
Yes, out of love he called Lazarus back from the dead. Out of love, God gives breath and life again to the seemingly hopeless and helpless bones in the valley in Ezekiel’s vision. Out of love, Christ’s Spirit dwells in the heart of the Community of Rome, as St Paul narrates in the second reading of today.
Love can do many things…and Jesus just displayed it shamelessly. Because of his love of his friend, he wept with Mary and Martha. Out of love, he dares to defy Martha’s concern, “Lord it’s been four days, he must be smelling badly by now.” Then he orders Lazarus to come out of his grave, to be unbound, to be freed.
We are all helpless in many ways. We are all bound by many things that this world can offer. We are all enslaved in some ways. And today Jesus calls us all to get out of all these false securities, to be freed of our unnecessary baggages, and to look straight at Him. Yes, we may be badly smelling because of our sins, but Jesus said, to roll the stone away, the stone of our selfishness, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, for him to enter. He wants us to do something, just open our hearts and he’ll come in. And how can we be so sure that he loves us so much, when we are suffering in some ways, when we felt helpless and hopeless at times? When we are unfairly treated?
If we look at the gospel carefully, he calls Lazarus out of his grave, and gives him life again, because he would take the tomb himself, to die as we see on Good Friday. His death is our life. Sometimes, we feel God has left us. Like Martha and Mary, we might say, “Lord, if you had been here, he would have not have died.” But in reality, God is just there, it’s just that, he allows things to happen for something great to happen. And we know this through the eyes of our faith. There is no such thing as coincidence, one author said. Coincidence is “an event when God just remains anonymous.”
So today, as we go on with our Lenten and Holy Week journey, let’s have a closer look at Jesus, who loved us so much by calling us out of our own graves, by embracing death on our behalf. Then let’s share this same love of God for us, with our sisters and brothers, with our parents and grandparents, with our friends and enemies. But we have to note, loving as Jesus did requires embracing his cross.