On Friday evening I had the privilege of leading a short Eucharistic Adoration for the Confirmation Candidates at St Bede’s. During the service we say the Divine Praises. When I consider the words we use in the Divine Praises and reflect on today’s Gospel the line which stands out for me most is ‘Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man’. The encounter Jesus has with Lazarus, Martha and Mary demonstrates Jesus Christ as true God and true man.
Jesus shows that He is God initially by showing his foreknowledge of events; when told Lazarus was ill Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus’s illness will end not in death but in God’s glory.
Next, we see Jesus as man, he has an obvious love for Lazarus, but even though he has that love, he waits a few days before setting off with his disciples, this delay would help the disciples to deepen their faith in Jesus. When they arrive both Mary and Martha individually say the same words to Jesus, demonstrating their faith ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ We also see Jesus being just like us at the loss of a loved one, Jesus was in great distress, so much so, that other people remarked, ‘see how much he loved him.’
Amongst the exchanges between Jesus and the sisters, we also hear one of the most powerful affirmations of faith found in the Scriptures; when Martha says to Jesus ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Remember, this statement of faith was said before Jesus called Lazarus from his tomb.1
Then Jesus, in his great distress as a man, demonstrates his Divinity by calling Lazarus from death, back into life. Through this great miracle, many more people came to believe in Jesus.
When we hear this and also pay attention to the other readings where we hear God, through the prophet Ezekiel say ‘I am now going to open your graves, I mean to raise you from your graves, my people and lead you back to the soil of Israel’ Is it any wonder that more people believed in Jesus? St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit, the same spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, will give life to our mortal bodies.
Today’s Scriptures are telling us loudly and clearly, that we can all be like Lazarus; but first of all we need to make a place in our homes and a place in our hearts for Jesus. We know that Jesus already loves us; there is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us anymore or any less. We need to welcome that love and not reject it. Today, Jesus tells us that if we love Him, if we trust Him and believe in Him then we will be called by Him from our graves and inherit that eternal freedom which only Christ can give.
As we see Holy Week just over the horizon, may we all redouble our efforts to make this a Holy Lent; may we pray more deeply, fast more earnestly and give alms more generously reflecting the generous love of Jesus, the Son of God, who has given everything for us.
As mentioned in previous reflections, I am taking part in The Big Lent Walk for Cafod. The plan is to walk 200km during Lent. So far, I have walked 210km and have raised £485 for Cafod. I’d like to express my thanks for those who have sponsored me and all of those taking part in the Big Lent Walk, either as individuals or as part of Parish Groups.
If you are able to donate, and would like to support me, my page is https://cafod.enthuse.com/pf/tony-darroch
All donations are gratefully received.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 992-996: the progressive revelation of resurrection
CCC 549, 640, 646: raisings a messianic sign prefiguring Christ’s Resurrection
CCC 2603-2604: the prayer of Jesus before the raising of Lazarus
CCC 1002-1004: our present experience of resurrection
CCC 1402-1405, 1524: the Eucharist and the Resurrection
CCC 989-990: the resurrection of the body
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The success of the pastoral area formation programme ‘The Wild Goose’ which we are using as part of the Year of the Holy Spirit.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- All of Parishioners preparing to receive Sacraments for the first time.
- Those attending the RCIA programme at St Bede’s on Wednesday evenings.
- Those discerning a vocation.
1 Robert Draper, Pastoral Review Vol 19 Issue 1, Breaking the Word, [Tablet Publishing Company, Twickenham, 2022]83.