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April 2, 2017

The reading of this Sunday tells us the last and biggest sign Jesus performs in the Gospel of St. John: He raises Lazarus to life.  Jesus cries at the tomb of Lazarus.  At the same time, he reveals to Martha and Mary that he “is the resurrection and the life.” 

Lazarus came back to life at the call of Jesus but it was not his resurrection, because he died again.  It was only a pre-figuring of the Resurrection of Jesus who died, who resurrected from the dead and who will never die again.  Through our baptism, we have died to our sins and received the resurrection of the Lord.  But the fullness of resurrection is not here yet.  It awaits us at the end of earthly life.  We will rise again with the Lord as he promised: “Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Have you ever come to the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening in our church during Lent?  About 120 people regularly come and meditate on the Passion of the Lord.  As reflecting on the sign of raising Lazarus I recall the Fourteenth Station of the cross: Jesus is laid in the Tomb.”

The tomb is a sign of grief.  They laid him in the tomb….rolled a great stone to the door and went away (see the Passion in the Gospel of Matthew 27: 60).

The tomb.  Which one of us has not known the sorrow of the tomb?  Which one of us has not buried those whom we love the most?  Which one of us has not walked away with the other guests, leaving our heart buried in the ground? 

The tomb.  Many of us have prayed that we too might stay behind for good when all the rest went away.  But the tomb of the Lord is different.  It shall be broken open.  This tomb will become the sign of hope and expectation of the whole world.  This tomb will be an empty tomb, the victory over the grave; this tomb shall give hope of ever lasting life.

When we leave our hearts at another’s grave, we will remember the broken and open tomb of the Lord.  And when we know that our grave is just over the next hill, we will be strengthened by the memory of this empty tomb.

O Lord Jesus Christ, as we journey with you the last few weeks of your earthly life we are full of hope.  And while we lament your passion and suffering, our tears are abated and our grief is overcome, not only for you, but for all the sorrows in our own lives, because you, O Jesus Christ, will break open the tomb.  We thank you O Lord, and we ask you to keep always before our eyes the promise of your resurrection.   Remind us that the Way of the Cross is the Way to Eternal Life.