Today marks what used to be known as Passion Sunday in the pre 1969 church calendar reminding of Jesus’s upcoming suffering & his hiding from those that wished to stone him. The gospel account recalling the death and raising of Lazarus from John 11:1-45 reminds us of the need to put to death those earthly desires and temptations that separate us from God’s love. Many churches may begin to place veils on crosses and other images this Sunday.
John’s gospel informs us that Lazarus is the brother of Mary who anointed Jesus with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair (Jn. 11:2). John’s gospel account recalls the following: “So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”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.” (Jn. 11:3-4). Clearly such an event foreshadows Jesus’s own death and glorification that is about to come. The first reading from scripture from the prophet Ezekiel reminds us of the following “You shall know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and make you come up out of them, my people!” (Ez. 37:13).
If we haven’t been doing well during our Lenten journey, it is not too late to more fully enter into contemplation those things in our life that decay our souls and make us dead to God’s love and our fellow man. There can’t be an Easter without a Lenten trial. We are reminded of our Lord’s human nature when he weeps for his friend Lazarus (Jn. 11:35). Jesus also weeps during his entry into Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41). Such a moment reminds us of God’s great love and care for us in carrying the weight of our inequities and sin on the road to Calvary.
The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us that we are more than mere creations with bodily desires. “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.” (Rom. 8:9-10).
Let us more fully reflect on those things in our life that extinguish the flame of the light of Jesus & the Holy Spirit that wishes to dwells in us as we prepare for the upcoming Holy Week. Just as the body of Lazarus laid in the tomb, so too our own bodies may remain lifeless when we don’t have the Spirit of Christ on our earthly journey. Perhaps as a Catholic, you haven’t been inside of a confessional in a long time and need to return? The church welcomes you to this sacrament of healing and here is a good resource: https://thelightison.org/guide-to-confession/. Maybe your prayer life isn’t what it should be? Start small each day and ask the Lord to deepen your relationship with Him. Meditating upon the stations of the cross may be a good practice to do as well during this remaining Lenten season https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/short-meditations-on-the-stations-of-the-cross-4260.
Just as Lazarus came out of the tomb at the Lord’s call, will we do the same for the Jesus who weeps for us? Perhaps we should place a veil on our own crosses which symbolize the darkness, transgressions and moments we turn away from our Lord. The veiling of holy images and statues remind us of the beauty of patiently awaiting for the Lord to roll away our own stones of our tombs during this time of preparation and anticipation. How will we be a sign of hope and resurrection to others on this Lazarus Sunday?