Grace to you!
In the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:12, God declares a promise for his people. "I will raise you from your graves, my people…"
God’s word through Isaiah to open the grave for God’s people was no longer written in texts of over eight hundred years before Christ. Christ came to fulfill in entirety what the prophecy envisaged—ushering in a new perspective about human destiny.
Christ, the Lord, used the raising of Lazarus from the dead to demonstrate the reality of the resurrection. He also proved that new life is in him as the Messiah. He dispelled the doubts of unbelief.
"Role the Stone" was the Lord's first command to those standing by the grave of Lazarus. "Lazarus arise" was his second command.
The first command was inviting the people to hold on to God's Word and confront the grave head-on. They were not to be terrified by grave's crippling and horrifying posture. It was also to express the communal, ecclesial nature of the work of faith. The work of faith is a work where many in the community are to join hands to restore hope.
One could also see the stone as the obstacles, challenges, more fittingly varied occasions of sin which cover us, making us victims of the grave dirge, boxed in the lowest part of our brokenness and weaknesses. The stone must first be removed. Those occasions must first be tackled directly in faith. We do so by adhering to God's word so that we can see the way out of the grave.
Once the stone is rolled, the Lord speaks to Lazarus, who has been dead and buried for four days. For the Jewish culture at the time of Jesus, death after three days means the dead has reached a place of no return. Only God can bring such a dead person back to life. Hence, both Mary and Martha, and the Jews who saw the Lord Jesus weep, noted how it could have been possible for him to stop Lazarus from dying. But now he is dead. Nothing could be done about it. They had presumed (see Jn 11:21, 32, 37).
Did Jesus wait the first day, the second day, the third, and then the fourth to prove a point about his divinity? I do not know. What I do know is by the fourth day, decomposition must have started to take place, in some significant measures.
What does Jesus do? Command life to the dead. Speak healing to the dead and decaying bodies. Command that Lazarus rise.
To the amazement of onlookers, Lazarus rose. Only God, the Living God, can do this. Humans can't. Once again, the divinity of Jesus is proven.
What lesson do we learn from this story? The Lord Jesus demonstrates that the resurrection of the dead into glory is real. In him, and through him, eternal life is guaranteed. Second, no matter how hopeless our situation may be, if Christ is welcome to lead us, there is hope. Third, with God, the grave of human brokenness has been restored in and through Christ.
Hence, are there challenges (moral and spiritual situations), sinful conditions, or occasions we find ourselves in, and we feel like the stone of hopelessness is rolled over us? May we turn to Christ, especially at the Eucharist, so that he can speak to our situation. We shall rise in vigor and glory. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[5th Sunday of Lent A: Ez 37:12-14, Rom 8:8-11; Jn11:1-45]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.