“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.”
like the traveler lifting the fallen one on the Jericho road,
healing all his wounds, you went to Lazarus’ tomb,
and would not let him die but loosed the bonds of death,
so great was your love for him.
Savior, we believe you weep at every death,
and pray at every tomb, for all the dead
whose faith is known to you alone.
Like Lazarus, call us your friends,
stay in our company, share what we have,
come to our aid when we call and grant us eternal life.
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God,
may we walk eagerly in that same charity
with which, out of love for the world,
your Son handed himself over to death.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 715 The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of “love and fidelity.”1 St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost.2 According to these promises, at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.
1 Cf. Ezek 11:19; 36:25-28; 37:1-14; Jer 31:31-34; and cf. Joel 3:1-5.
2 Cf. Acts 2:17-21.
God revealed himself and his true nature to his Chosen People in the Old Testament by his actions more than by his words. They were a stubborn, stiff-necked people—they were so often ungrateful for all the benefits he conferred on them. They forgot him in material prosperity and only turned to him in need. The idolatry and misconduct of their kings ever since Solomon (with a few notable exceptions), and the no-less-pagan outlook of the majority of the people, brought on them the destruction of Jerusalem with its temple, the center of their life and religion, in the year 587. They had been warned by God’s prophets but they turned a deaf ear to all remonstrances and warnings. When the foretold calamity fell they turned to Yahweh, but too late.
However, when they had done their penance in Babylon, Yahweh came to their aid once more and brought them back to Judah and Jerusalem, where they eventually rebuilt the city and their temple and where they remained until the promised Messiah came.
In all of this we have the merciful, forgiving God, revealing himself, while using this very ungrateful people to carry out his plan for raising the whole human race to adopted divine sonship through the loving mystery of the Incarnation.
We Christians have seen that plan fulfilled. We know we have been adopted by God and made heirs of heaven because Christ made himself our brother. We know too that we shall rise again from the dead and be brought back not to Judah or Jerusalem, but to the land of eternal happiness–to “the Jerusalem that is above.” God revealed much of his divine qualities to the Jews, but how incomparably greater is the revelation we have received from him through the coming of Christ among us!
The Jews of that day had but a very vague idea of life after death; we are certain that our physical death is not the end for us but rather the beginning of our true life. The Jews called God their “father” but because of their infidelity the father-son relationship was a cold one, built more on fear than on love. We call God our Father, but we use the term with sincerity and love for we have become his children through the brotherhood of Christ, his real, divine Son.
God helped the Jews often in their temporal needs, they seldom sought spiritual aid from him. We have in the mystical body of Christ, his Church, all the spiritual helps we need for our journey to heaven, and temporal favors on innumerable occasions, during our stay on earth. God said of his Chosen People: “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done for it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, what did it yield–wild grapes?”
Unfortunately, he has to make the same complaint of many in his Christian vineyard, and how much more has he done for them than he ever did for the Jews? God forbid that any one of us should be deserving of this complaint. When we meet him on the day of judgment let us hope and pray that we will have the true grapes of a virtuous life to offer him.
Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the LORD.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit dwelling in you.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.1 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.2
CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,3 the Spirit of adoption,4 the Spirit of Christ,5 the Spirit of the Lord,6 and the Spirit of God7 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.8
CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,9 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.10 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”11 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.12 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.13 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.14 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:15 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.
CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.16 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.17
CCC 990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.18 The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.19
1 Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; I Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20.
2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.
3 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.
4 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.
5 Rom 8:9.
6 2 Cor 3:17.
7 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.
8 1 Pet 4:14.
9 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.
10 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.
11 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.
12 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.
13 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.
14 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.
15 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.
16 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.
17 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.
18 Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6.
19 Rom 8:11.
The three readings for today, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, have a common theme–resurrection. In Ezekiel the release of the Jews from the captivity and slavery of Babylon is described as a rising from their graves to return to a new life in their own homeland. This is a metaphor, a type of the true resurrection which will come later. In the third reading–the gospel–we have the story of the raising of Lazarus from the tomb, which proves the power Jesus had of raising the dead.
In this second reading, in St. Paul’s instruction to the Roman Christians, we have a direct reference to the future resurrection to a life of unending glory for all those who during their time on earth, were loyal to God and Christ. This resurrection in a new body, which will never again be subject to death or pain or suffering, has been won for us by Christ who, having died for our sins, was raised by the Father on Easter morning.
Only the kindness of an infinitely loving God could plan and provide such a marvelous future for us. “What is man that you are mindful of him?”, the Psalmist says to God. What are we indeed–mere creatures, finite, limited beings, in comparison with the infinite Godhead! Yet, when creating us he gave us the spiritual faculties which enable us to appreciate the good, the beautiful and the perfect. He knew that in this life these powers could never be satisfied, and so he ordained that after “working our passage” through this valley of tears, a new life would await us, an unending life in which, in company with the Blessed Trinity, our blessed Mother and the millions of fellow-saints, we would have eternal contentment and happiness.
The thought of this glorious future should never be far from our minds. It was this thought that enabled the martyrs to face their executioners with joy in their hearts. It was this thought that made the saints rejoice in their bodily sufferings and mortifications. It was this hope of eternal happiness which spurred on the millions of ordinary men and women like ourselves, whose life on earth was a monotonous sequence of one drudgery after another, one misfortune following on the heels of the previous one.
It is by imitating these people that we too will join them when our call will come. It is by bearing the burdens of each day, by welcoming, and seeing God’s will in all the ups and downs of our very ordinary lives, that we can join them. Listen again to these solemn words of St. Paul: “Anyone who does not have the spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” You have the Spirit of Christ in you, if you are striving to live a Christian life. This means taking each day as it comes, offering to God its joys and its sorrows, its honest pleasures and its pains, its sunshine and its showers. All this means: living in peace with God and with your neighbor. This may sound easy but it is not so; it will mean much self-denial, but then think of what awaits us at the end of our road–a resurrection to a new life, an unending life of happiness. God grant that we may all have this happy ending to our earthly journey.
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.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel.1 The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek – a figure of Christ – and the upright “Noah, Daniel, and Job”.2 Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”.3
CCC 60 The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church.4 They would be the root on to which the Gentiles would be grafted, once they came to believe.5
CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.6 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.7
CCC 472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”,8 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.9 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.10
CCC 548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.11 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.12 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.13 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offence”;14 they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.15
CCC 581 The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi.16 He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the Law.17 Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people “as one who had authority, and not as their scribes”.18 In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes.19 Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old. .. But I say to you. ..”20 With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God”.21
CCC 596 The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus.22 The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers.23 To those who feared that “everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation”, the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”24 The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone to death, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition.25 The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.26
CCC 627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” 27 28 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” Both of these statements can be said of Christ: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”,29 and “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.”30 Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day” was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.31
CCC 640 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”32 The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.33 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.34 The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.35 This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.36
CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.37 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,38 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”39 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”40
CCC 831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:41
All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God’s will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one. .. The character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.42
CCC 993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord’s contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?”43 Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who “is not God of the dead, but of the living.”44
CCC 994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.”45 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.46 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,47 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,”48 the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.49
CCC 1001 When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.”50 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.51
CCC 2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.52 Thanksgiving precedes the event: “Father, I thank you for having heard me,” which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: “I know that you always hear me,” which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the “treasure”; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given “as well.”53
The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.54 A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.
CCC 2793 The baptized cannot pray to “our” Father without bringing before him all those for whom he gave his beloved Son. God’s love has no bounds, neither should our prayer.55 Praying “our” Father opens to us the dimensions of his love revealed in Christ: praying with and for all who do not yet know him, so that Christ may “gather into one the children of God.”56 God’s care for all men and for the whole of creation has inspired all the great practitioners of prayer; it should extend our prayer to the full breadth of love whenever we dare to say “our” Father.
1 Cf. Gen 9:16; Lk 21:24; DV 3.
2 Cf. Gen 14:18; Heb 7:3; Ezek 14:14.
3 Jn 11:52.
4 Cf. Rom 11:28; Jn 11:52; 10:16.
5 Cf. Rom 11:17-18,24.
6 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.
7 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.
8 Lk 2:52.
9 Cf. Mk 6 38; 8 27; Jn 11:34; etc.
10 Phil 2:7.
11 cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38.
12 Cf. Mk 5:25-34; 10:52; etc.
13 Cf. Jn 10:31-38.
14 Mt 11:6.
15 Cf. Jn 11:47-48; Mk 3:22.
16 Cf Jn 11:28; 3:2; Mt 22:23-24, 34-36.
17 Cf. Mt 12:5; 9:12; Mk 2:23-27; Lk 6:6-g; Jn 7:22-23.
18 Mt 7:28-29.
19 Cf. Mt 5:1.
20 Mt 5:33-34.
21 Mk 7:13; cf. 3:8.
22 cf. Jn 9:16; 10:19.
23 Cf Jn 9:22.
24 Jn 11:48-50.
25 Cf. Mt 26:66; Jn 18:31; Lk 23:2, 19.
26 Cf. Jn 19:12, 15, 21.
27 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.
28 Acts 2:24.
29 Is 53:8.
30 Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10.
31 Cf. I Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39.
32 Lk 24:5-6.
33 Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15.
34 Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23.
35 Jn 20:2, 6, 8.
36 Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7.
37 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.
38 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.
39 Cf. In 11:52.
40 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.
41 Cf. Mt 28:19.
42 LG 13 §§ 1-2; cf. Jn 11:52.
43 Mk 12:24; cf. Jn 11:24; Acts 23:6.
44 Mk 12:27.
45 Jn 11:25.
46 Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54.
47 Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11.
48 Mt 12:39.
49 Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22.
50 Jn 6: 39-40,44,54; 11:24; LG 48 § 3.
51 1 Thess 4:16.
52 Cf. Jn 11:41-42.
53 Mt 6:21, 33.
54 Cf. Jn 17.
55 Cf. NA 5.
56 Jn 11:52.
On hearing this story of the resurrection of Lazarus, the question which will arise in the minds of most people is this: why did Jesus allow his best and most faithful friends to suffer anguish for four days? He could have cured Lazarus of his illness the moment he heard of it. Yet he delayed and allowed the sisters to suffer the death of their beloved brother. We have already given the answer above. He wanted to make this, his last recorded miracle, a convincing proof of his claim to be what he was–the Messiah, sent by God to give a new life, an eternal life, to mankind. He also wanted to give his enemies a great impulse and motive to carry out his condemnation and crucifixion, which was the debt he “the suffering servant” of God, was to pay for the sins of mankind.
That his closest friends had to suffer for a while, in order to cooperate with him in his plans was therefore an unavoidable necessity. Is there not here an answer to the questionings of divine providence which we hear so often from otherwise devout followers of Christ? Drowned in their own personal sorrow and grief they cannot see that this very sorrow and grief is part of Christ’s plan for the salvation of men. And the fact that they are loyal, true friends of Christ is the very reason they are chosen to carry this particularly heavy cross. Less faithful friends would not help him, so in his mercy he does not put that extra load on their unwilling shoulders.
Martha and Mary had to live through four sad days, while their friend seemed to forget them. But how great was the reward for their sufferings, when their beloved brother returned to the family circle–a brother they thought they had lost forever! We can well imagine the rejoicing that took place in that home in Bethany (not only that night but for years to follow).
We all have our sorrows and separations from our loved ones. But as in the case of the Bethany family, they are temporary separations. Our dear ones who are taken from us are not lost to us–they are perhaps closer to us and more helpful to us than they ever could have been in this life. And our faith convinces us that we will be reunited soon with them. Christ by his death, has conquered death. He has won eternal life for all men. His resurrection was the prelude (“the first-fruits,” as St. Paul calls it) to the resurrection of all mankind–a resurrection to an eternal life of happiness where families, friends and neighbors will rejoice together in the presence of God for all eternity. The years of sorrow we have to endure here below will look small and trifling indeed when viewed from eternity.
But–and this is a capital but–though Christ has won a new, eternal life of adopted sonship with God for all men, each man must do his part to earn that sonship, to merit the eternal happiness which Christ came to win for us. “God created us without our consent,” says St. Augustine, “but he cannot save us without our cooperation.” We must live our lives then as Christ has taught us.
For every thought we give to death, and we are reminded of it hourly and daily, let us think three times on what will follow after it. If we do, we will never die unprepared. We will have made sure of a happy eternity.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.
The Eucharist, and its fellowship, will be all the more complete, the more we prepare ourselves for him in silent prayer before the eucharistic presence of the Lord, the more we truly receive Communion. Adoration such as that is always more than just talking with God in a general way… The Eucharist means God has answered: The Eucharist is God as an answer, as an answering presence. Now the initiative no longer lies with us, in the God-man relationship, but with him, and it now becomes really serious. That is why, in the sphere of eucharistic adoration, prayer attains a new level; now it is two-way, and so now it really is serious business. Indeed, it is now not just two-way, but all inclusive: whenever we pray in the eucharistic presence, we are never alone. Then the whole of the Church, which celebrates the Eucharist, is praying with us. Then we are praying within the sphere of God’s gracious hearing, because we are praying within the sphere of death and Resurrection, that is, where the real petition in all our petitions has been heard: the petition for the victory over death; the petition for the love that is stronger than death. In this prayer we no longer stand before an imagined God but before the God who has truly given himself to us; before the God who has become for us Communion and who thus frees us and draws us from the margin into communion and leads us on to Resurrection. We have to seek again this kind of prayer.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
I adore You, O Jesus, God of Love, truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I adore You Who has come to Your Own but were not received by them.
I adore You, Whom the majority of mankind rejected and despised.
I adore You, Whom the impious incessantly are offend by their sacrileges and blasphemies.
I adore You, Who are grieved by the coldness and indifference of a vast number of Christians.
I adore You, O Infinite Goodness, Who has wrought so many miracles, in order to reveal Your love to us.
I adore You, with all the angels and saints, and with those chosen souls that are now already the blessed of Your Father and are all aglow with burning love for You.
I adore You with all Your friends, O Jesus! With them I prostrate myself at the foot of the Altar, to offer You my most profound homage, to receive Your Divine Inspiration, and to implore Your grace.
Oh, how good it is for me to be here with You!
How sweet to hear the Voice of my Beloved!
O Victim of Divine Love!
A piercing cry breaks forth from Your Heart here on the Altar, as it once did on Calvary; it is the cry of Love; “I thirst,” You call to Your children, “I thirst for Your love!
Come all, whom I love as My Father has loved Me; come and quench the thirst that consumes Me!
Lord Jesus, behold I come.
My heart is small, but it is all Yours.
You are a prisoner in our Tabernacles, You the Lord of Lords! And love it is, that holds You here as such!
You leave the Tabernacle only to come to us, to unite Yourself with the faithful soul and allow Your Divine Love to reign within.
O King of Love!
Come, live and reign in me.
I want no other law but the law of Your Love!
No, no, I henceforth desire to know nothing, neither of this world nor of what is in it, nor of myself; Your Love alone shall rule in me eternally.
O Jesus, grant me this grace!
Break all my fetters, strip me of all that is not of Yourself, in order that Your Love may be my life here below, and my happiness and delight in eternity, Amen.