Sunday Homily: I Am the Resurrection and the Life

Fifth Sunday of Lent

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Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the sixth sign in John’s Gospel. It is the sign that immediately leads to Jesus’ condemnation by the high-priest Caiaphas (John 11:49-53). This is quite a contrast – the sign of restoring life to Lazarus leads to Jesus’ death, when it should be the sign that fully manifests that Jesus is the one who gives life eternal.

In the first reading, the words of the prophet Ezekiel are interpreted in the light of Christ and are presented by the Liturgy as looking forward to the day when God will open the graves of the people and have them rise from them, when God will place his Spirit in them so that they may have life, and when God will bring the people back to settle in the land of Israel. On that day, the sons of Israel will form one nation, and not two, under David. God will make an everlasting covenant with the people and will set his sanctuary among the people for evermore (Ezekiel 37:22-28). Today’s miracle also looks forward to that day, when Christ, the Son of David, will reign over all nations, when a new and everlasting covenant in Christ’s blood will be established, when Christ’s glorified body becomes the New Sanctuary and Temple, when we will rise with Christ to eternal life and when our mortal bodies will be glorified like Christ’s body.

The passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans takes up the theme of the Spirit which dwells in us and gives life to us. Paul contrasts the flesh of the body which, due to original sin, is dead, and the spirit, which, due to righteousness, is alive and gives life. The Spirit, promised in Ezekiel, is sent to us by Jesus, who now sits at the right hand of the Father, and is given to us in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Today we hear the words of Jesus to Martha: “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?” Hopefully our answer is that of Martha: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God”. All of the signs that Jesus did are invitations to faith in him; and, if we believe, we will see the glory of God. One day, we, like Lazarus, will hear Jesus cry out our name with a loud voice and say: “Come out!” On hearing his voice, we will leave behind the blindness and stench of death and rise with him to new life. The sign of the raising of Lazarus points to something greater than restoration to earthly life. It points to the bestowal of eternal life and the vision of God face to face. As sons and daughters of God, baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, we will share eternally in the Love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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