The Raising of Lazarus

Today, we celebrate the third and final scrutiny in preparation for the baptism of the elect at the Easter Vigil. In the exorcism for today, the priest asks God to “snatch us from the realm of death” and to free

For Sunday, March 26th, 2023

Reading

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.” Martha said, “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.

John 11:3–7, 17, 20–27, 33b–45

Reflection

Today, we celebrate the third and final scrutiny in preparation for the baptism of the elect at the Easter Vigil. In the exorcism for today, the priest asks God to “snatch us from the realm of death” and to free the elect from “the death-dealing power of the spirit of evil” (RCIA, 175). We are only saved from the evil of death when we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection (see Romans 6:4-6)

In today’s Gospel, we see a display of God’s power over death. Lazarus was only a sign of what was to come for us—that is, when we die, we won’t stay dead. Lazarus’s resuscitation has given each member hope that God can reach into death, our greatest enemy, and defeat it.

Ultimately, Christ’s death and resurrection secured humanity’s hope that death would not have the final word for us. What Christ did for us on Calvary and in the tomb is still being worked out with each generation. It will come to completion when the world is brought to its apex in the second coming of Christ and the final judgment.

Each person, you and I, have to prepare for this final coming by hosting the life, death, and resurrection of Christ in his own body and soul. Christ has to be alive in us so that the evil one will not pull us into eternal death. We secure this life of Christ through trusting and believing in all that he has revealed and taught in scripture, participating in the celebration of the Eucharist, and emulating the saints. May we consistently repeat the words of Martha, “Lord, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

Christ’s voice reached into Lazarus’s dead body and awoke it. We can only hope that we are hearing this same voice while we are still alive. We must choose Christ now. Jesus is crying out into all our souls with the same message that awakened Lazarus: “[C]ome out!” Come out of darkness, ignorance, and sin; come into his light and life.

In your time of silent prayer today, ask that all baptized men and women and all who are preparing for baptism might “triumph over the bitter fate of death” (RCIA, 174) by choosing Christ this day and every day to come.

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