Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 2, 2017)

St. Paul is very clear in today’s second reading. Because of our baptism, Jesus lives in us through the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit dwells in us, even though our bodies are subject to death as a consequence of sin, our spirit lives. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will raise our mortal bodies to life beyond death. This is the sure promise made to all of us who choose to live, animated by the Spirit.

Today’s Gospel calls us to a deeper faith and trust in Jesus who tells us: “I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life.”

“Do you believe this?”

No one seemed to be prepared for Jesus’ next words and actions. “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Then he shouts: “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus comes out, still bound in his linen shroud. Jesus has to tell them to “untie him and let him go free.”

What is your response, my response, as we listen to the events recounted for us? The glory of God revealed in Lazarus’ new life calls us to faith and trust. Physical death only ends our earthly life; there is life beyond the grave - eternal life, resurrection of our bodies! The Spirit who dwells in us will give us a share in Jesus’ glorious risen life.

But before that promise comes true, however, we have an earthly life to complete.

Reality must break through the marvelous events we have witnessed.

We know that this miracle hastened the tragic events of Jesus’ arrest, suffering and eventual death on the cross. As we listen today, we are reminded that there are daily deaths to self and sin that we must endure in order to share in Jesus’ rising. People and events in our daily living will challenge our faith and trust in Jesus as resurrection and life. How we handle these daily deaths to self and sin is often a good indication of how we will handle our final, earthly death. Seeing them as our opportunities to share in Jesus’ suffering and death gives us the courage to accept them gracefully.

Let us resolve, then, to use these challenges to deepen our decision to follow Jesus more closely each day. Jesus has told us that our daily deaths to self and sin, and our eventual physical death, will bring us to our promised share in his glorious risen life. May the grace of God and our faithfulness bring us to the fullness of life Jesus has promised us.

Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, is the Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center.