Fifth Sunday in Lent


By Emily VanBerkum

The setting of today’s Gospel is a stone tomb and inside the tomb rests a man named Lazarus. Once word reaches Jesus, he risks the trip to Judea to comfort Lazarus’ grieving sisters and perform a miracle by “awakening” Lazarus so that “all may believe.”

Mary and Martha lead Jesus to Lazarus’ tomb and Jesus “began to weep.” Jesus too morns the death of a close disciple and uses his authority as the “resurrection and the life” to reveal the grace and glory of God, the Father. With a steady calm and gentleness, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead with a simple command: “Lazarus, come out!”

Jesus did not raise Lazarus from the dead for the sole purpose that others may believe in his divinity.

Rather, this setting of the tomb and Christ confronting death foreshadows Christ’s Easter miracle in which we see most profoundly that out of death springs new life.

However, to me, the phrase “Lazarus, come out!” is also significant. We are mere weeks away from a very sacred time in our liturgical calendar. As we read today’s Gospel and allow our minds to imagine a vacant stone tomb, let’s think about how we are preparing for Christ’s resurrection. Will we “come out” of our own hurt, frustrations, regrets, and egos? What are we preparing to “come into?” As we prepare to die with Christ, let us also ready our hearts to rise with him to new life. What does this new life in Christ entail? I suggest that we “come into” a new way of thinking about eternal life with Christ- an intimate way of establishing a relationship with Jesus in which we learn more about ourselves and our deep spiritual yearnings.