Pastor’s Corner for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A, by Rev. Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ
Do you sometimes wonder why many people are afraid of dying or wonder how many people would want to be a hundred years old? In other words, doesn’t there come a point where most people realize that death is a natural part of life? Death ends our life on earth, but only so that we can live somewhere else. Where we live after death is up to God and us.
By contrast, if death is not something natural, what sort of miracle did Jesus do in this Sunday’s Gospel Reading? In other words, Lazarus after being raised from the dead, still died a second time at some point. So, does the fact that Lazarus died a second time mean that Jesus’ miracle was a failure? What was the point of Jesus’ miracle? Was he trying to “save” Lazarus from death? No. Instead, this miracle is a sign: it points beyond itself. Lazarus, raised from the dead, points our attention to Jesus. This miracle is a sign that reveals that Jesus is more powerful than death, and that if we believe in Him, He can guide us beyond death. If we don’t have faith in Jesus, death is fatal.
This Sunday’s Gospel Reading invites us to identify with Lazarus, a dead man. This is not an exciting role. Lazarus says nothing and does nothing but walk out of his tomb, covered with burial cloths. The problem of Lazarus is not thirst or blindness, but death. When Jesus told him to come out of the tomb, he obeyed. This Lenten period the Lord is constantly calling us out of our tombs. The question is: are we willing to obey and walk out of our tombs, leaving behind all the things that holds us hostage and lifeless?
Another point to reflect on is that, in this gospel passage it is not the person who is cured who brings others to put their faith in Jesus. Instead, it’s the sisters of Lazarus whose actions lead others to Christ. Through the intercession of Martha and Mary, Jesus teaches us a lesson in faith. He doesn’t teach us that death and suffering will never touch us. Rather, He teaches us that death does not have the last word and we need the intercession of others when we are unable to do so by ourselves.
The miracle that Jesus worked in raising Lazarus from the dead was not so much for Lazarus himself: but the miracle that Jesus worked was done for the sake of those who witnessed this miracle. It was for those who realized that Jesus is the Lord of life and death, and that if we place our faith in Jesus, the suffering we experience in this world will itself die, ending along with our lives on earth, while we ourselves—through faith in Jesus—will rise with Him to eternal life.
Like the blind man in last week’s Gospel reading, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for “dead men”—for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death. If we believe, we will see—that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life. By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel’s promise in this Sunday’s First Reading. “He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live”. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in the second reading. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to us who were once dead in sin. Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in Gospel passage—that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—even if we die, we will live. May God bless and keep you safe.
For the sick
Let us continue to pray for the sick members of our parish especially Elizabeth Mooi, Gloria Malunga, Fanyana Mazibuko and Andrew Ledwaba
Fr. N. Munekani SJ