Fifth Sunday of Lent


By Emily VanBerkum

The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is one of my favourite biblical narratives found only in the Gospel of John. Early on in the narrative, we learn that Lazarus of Bethany, brother to Mary and Martha, fell ill and that God would somehow be glorified through his illness. Even with a risk to his safety, Jesus returned to Judea to “wake” Lazarus from his “sleep.” As a true miracle, Jesus resuscitates Lazarus’ physical body in order to reveal himself as a sign of the “resurrection and the life.” In so doing, we discover that whoever “lives and believes in Christ will never die.” Significantly, this revelation reminds us that God’s gift of eternal life in Christ exists in the present, i.e. even now in our physical lives we may accept in good faith that there is something beyond this life waiting for us in death. Herein lies the good news of this Gospel account. In this encounter, Jesus models for us the great glory of the resurrection which points to the impending Easter event!

Ultimately, the raising of Lazarus is a sign of hope. Hope that Christ’s life will find its fulfillment in death on a cross. Is it not incredible that by believing in Jesus, we pass from death into life? My Catholic faith, and firm belief in God’s steadfast love has convinced me that death never has the final say- there is and must be spiritual life beyond our earthly existence. Whereas Lazarus was resuscitated to resume life in his mortal body so that he would one day die again, Christ resurrected from the dead, taking on a glorified spiritual body that would know eternal life with God the Father. Christ’s death makes it possible for us to share in this reality. In preparation for Easter, I encourage our community to consider what it means to have eternal life in Christ. Why do we wait in joyful hope of the resurrection? Is there a spiritual life beyond death? If not, what’s the point?