5th Sunday of Lent year ’A’ 5e dimanche du carême, année ’A’

“Lord, the man you love is ill.”
Sunday 29 January 2017

Ez.37,12-14 Ps.129 Rm.8,8-11 Jn.11,1-45

5th Sunday of Lent, year ’A’

"There was a man named Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha, and he was ill. It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent this message to Jesus, ’Lord, the man you love is ill. On receiving the message, Jesus said ’This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God’s glory so that through it the Son of man may be glorified." Martha and Mary, inspired with the same affection they have for their brother who fell seriously ill, send a message to Jesus : ’Lord, the one you love is sick.’ The two sisters take Jesus by the heart. He loves this family, his love is a faithful one, he manifests it by being close and he holds a conversation with each person. The intimacy and warmth of love that reigns in the house of Bethany is a marvellous one. When faced with the suffering of Lazarus’ illness they need to go and fetch Jesus for him to cure him. It is a combat for life. These sisters of Lazarus begin their agony as soon as Jesus seems to ignore them, their hearts are very hurt ! With the mystery of his entry into silence, Jesus dares create misunderstanding : ’so that the disciples may believe.’ It is something quite unbearable for Martha and for Mary. Life and death remain enigmas for out intelligence and for our hearts. Real questions are asked in existence! Especially when threatened with illness or else it strikes people we love. The Gospel has us take a look at life and death with peace and hope. Like this we already celebrate the victory of God’s infinite Love over death. "When he heard tat he was ill Jesus stayed where he was for two more days before saying tot he disciples, ’Let us go back to Judaea.’ The disciples said Rabbi, it s not long since the Jews w ere trying to stone you; are you going back there again? Jesus replied ’ Are there not twelve hours in a day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of the world to see by; anyone who walks around by night stumbles, having no light as a guide. “He said that and then added ’Our friend Lazarus is at rest; I am going to wake him.” Having withdrawn to a place beyond Jordan, Jesus comes back to Jerusalem despite the danger, and his whole attitude reveals how much his love is a genuine one. ’Lazarus is dead ’ and ’ the disciples must believe.’  These women had gone through suffering, the disciples’ heart is worked upon. This is great mystery, one we have such a hard time with. We don’t want to have these painful areas in our lives, and whatever comes, we try our best to run away from them. Now, these places are places of birth to a New Life. Martha comes before the Master, says to him : ’Lord, if you had been there, my brother wouldn’t have died!’  You would have prevented him from dying! Being far off you were unable to do anything and now that he is dead, you can do nothing at all any more. Martha who has a hard time and is embarrassed said to her sister in a soft voice ’The Master is here, he is calling you to come.’

The two sisters say the same thing, but not in the same tone of voice! 3 32 Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, ’Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33 At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who had come with her, Jesus was greatly distressed, and with a profound sigh he said, 34 ’Where have you put him?’ They said, ’Lord, come and see.’ 35 Jesus wept; 36 and the Jews said, ’See how much he loved him!’ 37 But there were some who remarked, ’He opened the eyes of the blind man. Could he not have prevented this man’s death?’ 38 Sighing again, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. 39 Jesus said, ’Take the stone away.’ Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, ’Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day since he died.’ 40 Jesus replied, ’Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ 41 So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said: Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. 42 I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me. 43 When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, ’Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material, and a cloth over his face. Jesus said to them, ’Unbind him, let him go free.’ 45 Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done. We come to see the way that Jesus saw death when he said to his disciples ’Lazarus our friend his sleeping.’ Jesus accompanied him on this road in the way a child goes to sleep, and so you have to wait for him to wake up. ’The disciples didn’t yet understand how Jesus comes to save humanity, arouse it from its sleep, bring it back to life! It is when he cries out with aloud voice ’Lazarus, come out!’ And when the dead man comes out with his hands and feet bandaged, his face wrapped up in a linen cloth, they finally understand that he comes to put him on his feet again. Death is just a sleeping, a place where Jesus comes to awaken us. Our life goes through a corporal death, the Son of God who made us live before will make us live after our death, in his Resurrection. Our body of joy and of misery will have part in Eternal Life, in a happiness that knows no end, one which the Risen Lord Jesus will give to us on the last day. We ask for the grace to have a deeper faith in Jesus’ resurrection.  "Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. ’Here is this man working all these signs,’ they said, ’and what action are we taking? 48 If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and suppress the Holy Place and our nation.’ 49 One of them, Caiaphas, the high priest that year, said, ’You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; 50 you fail to see that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish.’ 51 He did not speak in his own person, but as high priest of that year he was prophesying that Jesus was to die for the nation- 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather together into one the scattered children of God. 53 From that day onwards they were determined to kill him. 54 So Jesus no longer went about openly among the Jews, but left the district for a town called Ephraim, in the country bordering on the desert, and stayed there with his disciples. 55 The Jewish Passover was drawing near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves 56 were looking out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, ’What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?’ 57 The chief priests and Pharisees had by now given their orders: anyone who knew where he was must inform them so that they could arrest him."

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