Sunday, April 6, 2014

5th Sunday of Lent (Passion Sunday)

Ez 37:12-14
Ps 130
Rom 8:8-11
Jn 11:1-45

These are extraordinary and almost overwhelming readings that deserve prolonged meditation.  Ezekiel begins with a promise: "Thus says the Lord God: I will open your graves and have you rise from them." The Jewish Study Bible gives a succinct commentary on this passage:  “Traditional Jewish exegetes find here the idea of the resurrection of the dead before the day of judgment, a fundamental belief of rabbinic Judaism ascribed to Moses.”   Obviously, resurrection is not a new or exclusively Christian belief. 

Paul comments on the cost of sin and announces good news.  Although the body is dead because of sin; if Christ is in us the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  What more could we want? 

Psalm 130—De profundis—is one of the most beautiful and evocative hymns in the entire psalter.  We call to the Lord out of the depths, the depths of sin, the tomb in which we find ourselves again and again.  We call to the Lord who hears our plea; the Lord who forgives our sins. 

Thus, the cinematically detailed story of Lazarus is our story—a  story of being brought back to life in Christ through the forgiveness of sins—until the final resurrection of the dead. 

Jesus, fully human, weeps at Lazarus’ tomb.  Jesus, fully God commands Lazarus to come forth from that tomb.  This same Jesus, fully human, wept over Jerusalem as he weeps over us.  This same Jesus, fully God, commanded Lazarus to come forth from the tomb, the son of the widow of Nain to rise from his stretcher, and the daughter of the official to get up from her bed, just as he calls us to eternal life. 

In his commentary on this Gospel Stanley Marrow necessarily points out the fundamental difference between Lazarus and the others who were brought back to life ONLY to have to die again later; and Jesus, who rises from the dead NEVER to die again. 

If Lazarus is us so is Martha.  The same Martha who complained to Jesus about Mary now makes a profound act of faith,  “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.”  And then the climax of this narrative in Jesus statement:  “I am the resurrection and life; whoever believes in me will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” 

It is not that we will not physically die.  Jesus did not come to save us from the reality of being human, a reality that must include physical death. That death may be through a process that is sudden and without warning.

Death may come as a slow but easy passage from this life, or death may be the welcome relief at the end of a prolonged period of pain, suffering, and decay.  What Jesus is promising is that, in Stanley’s words, “the eternal life which we possess here and now cannot and will not be interrupted even by death.” 

We cry to the Lord out of the depths of our souls.  The Lord answers with kindness and plenteous redemption.  What more could we want?


Glorious spring day.  Finally.  Apparently a lot of rain coming tomorrow night but I can live with that.  It isn't snow.  Can really live with that.  My homily for Palm Sunday here at Campion and for St. Mary's in Plymouth on Good Friday is done.  The homily will follow the proclamation of the Passion.  It is 63 words.  Anything more than 100 words commenting on the Passion Narrative is worse than gilding the lily.  As I can feel a nap coming on very quickly it is time to post a few photos and grab a quick nap.  

The photos are another series of chairs.  There is something evocative about an empty chair.  Each one has a story unique to its location.  

A desk chair in a room that a Jesuit being assigned to Campion had just moved out of. 

 That chair has very different associations than the chairs on the porch at the villa house in Cohasset. 

These chairs have a different reason for being than the lounge chairs at the Norseman Motel in Ogunquit, Maine. 

And these are different from the two chairs overlooking Brace's Rock at the retreat house in Gloucester. 

These last chairs are fascinating.  They are in the chapel of the Jesuit residence at Fu-jen University just outside Taipei.  They are lined up with precision making the photo through several rows possible.  I was doing an abdominal crunch to get this photo.  I also captured my bare feet.  Cropped those out. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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