Fifth Sunday in Lent
This week we read from the Gospel of John, Chapter 11. We’re almost there. We have been on this Lenten road since Ash Wednesday: about 28 of the forty days of Lent. We are in the home stretch, you could say! And as we journey through, we sometimes fail to remember that every Sunday celebrates the resurrection! On this Lord’s Day, however, what is implicitly true every Sunday becomes explosively explicit. Ezekiel 37 confounds Israel’s despair: dry bones shall live! Romans 8 contrasts the mortality of the flesh with the life of the Spirit: the God who raised Christ Jesus will give you life. John 11 reveals a promise so powerful that its early arrival cannot be postponed: Lazarus, come forth! This is the last in a series of seven narrated ‘signs’ and it marks a turning point concerning the One who is the resurrection and life. Unique to the Gospel of John, this episode serves as bridge connecting Jesus’ public ministry with the events related to his own death and resurrection. Our Gospel invites us to consider the possibility of resurrection in the lives of the many persons and communities who deeply need God’s presence in the nowness of our existence. We pray for the power of the resurrection in the lives of persons and communities bound by the graveclothes of poverty, abuse and neglect. As Christians, the resurrection demands our action too just as Jesus urged those who were standing there to ‘unbind him and let him go.’ In the same way, we too are called to tear away the wrappings that bind our communities; to remove the graveclothes of self-doubt, social isolation and oppression. And even this far into the solemn season, so far, in fact, that we can almost hear Palm Sunday hosannas flowing down the slopes of Olivet – even this close to the cross, we’re called to hear and share the promise of life. Five Sundays spent now. We wait – and watch. The morning must be near now. We’re not merely waiting. We are watching. We watch and hope. Here, at the tomb of Lazarus, death is denied for a time. There, at the tomb of Jesus, death is overcome for good.