Daily Reflection – Apr 2, 2017
Sunday 2 April 2017
First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11
Gospel Reading: John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33B-45
Today’s Note: Fifth Sunday of Lent
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, 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.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
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.”
“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.”
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.
So they took away the stone. (John 11:41)
Raising Lazarus from the dead was one of the most amazing miracles Jesus performed. But think about Martha. In this story, we see Jesus bringing this grieving sister from a theoretical faith to actual, living faith in him. In some respects, this is just as amazing as raising someone from the dead.
That’s why Martha makes a great Lenten companion for us. Hers is the kind of transformation Jesus wants to bring about in all of us. So let’s look at Martha’s progression to deeper faith:
At first, Martha trusts that Jesus can answer her prayers: “Lord, if you had been here . . .” (John 11:21).
Jesus says Lazarus will rise, but Martha doesn’t believe it can happen now. She pushes it into a distant future time: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24).
Jesus asks if she believes he is the resurrection and the life. Martha responds generally: “I have come to believe that you are the Christ” (John 11:27). She can’t seem to make the jump from Messiah to resurrection.
When Jesus asks Martha to open the tomb, she hesitates: “Lord, by now there will be a stench” (John 11:39). So Jesus nudges her forward: “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” (11:40). You can see it here and now, not just in some distant future. Martha needs to apply her faith.
Will she allow her brother’s body to be brought out? You can almost feel the struggle as she grapples with this decision. Jesus isn’t afraid of the stench, but he waits for her to decide. Finally, Martha gives permission, and the tomb is opened. Jesus calls Lazarus forth, and Martha comes to believe.
Every Sunday this Lent, Jesus has been leading us to take another step forward in faith. As he did with Martha, he brings us along gradually. Even if we waver, he waits for us to say yes to the next step.
“Jesus, I remove the stone! Come, Lord, and bring me to life!”