The death of Lazarus

Gospel John 11:1-45 

As we come together to celebrate this Eucharist and to meditate and pray over these readings, we are invited to think about this journey of Lent that we as a community began on Ash Wednesday. In this journey the Church invited us to pray, fast and do acts of charity. During these 21 days of lockdown we are given the opportunity to think about dialogues and conversations. In the last Sundays I focused my meditations on the different dialogues in the readings. In the first Sunday was the conversation of Jesus with the tempter, in the second week of the Transfiguration was the conversation of God with us (humanity) and Jesus with Moses and Elijah about the law and the prophets of the Old Testament. Then there was the dialogue with the Samaritan woman about the water, and last week was the conversation with Jesus and the blind man, and the Scribes and Pharisees who didn’t want to understand. Today is the conversation with Jesus, Martha and Mary and the people around Him. These dialogues lead us to meditate on the symbolism and understanding of our Baptism.

Our Church especially here in southern Africa and particularly in Johannesburg, in the last months have launched on the Feast of St Patrick, the Pastoral Plan and together with the Pastoral Plan we took the resolution to implement the Diocesan Synod topic of ‘Baptised and Sent’. The first step of ‘Baptised and Sent’ is to be aware of our Baptism, to be aware of our identity and to be conscious of us being missionaries because we were baptised. We were baptised in that dimension where we were called not only to overcome temptation but to overcome sin and death. And today Jesus in the Gospel invites us to meditate, pray and realise that we are called to be alive and to overcome death in all manners that it is presented to us. And this baptism is also manifested as we grow in our journey of life and walk on our journey of faith – that we experience the revelation of God in our lives through the light of the Gospel and the Sacraments and through the water of the Gospel and the Sacraments.

These dialogues and conversations is an invitation to change our mentality, to go deep into our understanding of our faith and ourselves. This will lead us into a new way of living, to organise ourselves and our lives, and to ask ourselves what we need to do.

We contemplate in the Gospel today, Jesus that delayed and was absent in the moment when Lazarus was ill, how the sisters reprimanded Him because if He was there, their brother would still be alive. And Jesus was there to console them and cry with them. In this particular time we probably feel the same, we feel that Jesus is absent, that He is delaying. In this moment we are called to go into deep prayer, into deep contemplation, into a deep relationship with God. And we will hear these words that Jesus will say to each one of us as He said to Lazarus, “Lazarus come out.” And we can replace Lazarus’ name with our own. Jesus inviting us to come out of that isolation that is death, to come out of that isolation that is killing ourselves and our families, our community. As we contemplate our streets from our windows and doors, we will see silence and emptiness. This is the silence and emptiness of Lazarus being in the tomb that we are experiencing ourselves. It is an opportunity to listen to the Word of God that is telling us that the Spirit of the Lord will give life, that God will restore us to new life, new families and new relationships. In this time that we are obligated to stay at home and to cut off social relationships, we are invited to ask ourselves – What are we facing now that we are escaping from? Probably being busy, we are escaping our families, ourselves and the deep silence that was inside us. Many of us are working from home and some are not working, but we are called not just to do nothing. We are given this opportunity at this time for creativity, for encounter, to make meaningful conversations that will bring us strength to overcome temptation, bring us open eyes and ears to see God’s manifestation, to see the Light of God, to bring us the water that we need to keep us alive and to bring us life that doesn’t end. It is in this way that we as a community of faith continue our journey of Lent, till next week when we celebrate Palm Sunday and enter into the celebration of Easter. This Sunday may the Lord invite us and set us free like Lazarus, let us encounter Him in the new life that He is preparing for us. Amen.