Lenten reflection on this upcoming Sunday’s Gospel: John 11:1-45
By Bernardo Avila-Borunda, assistant director of Campus Ministry, Multicultural Ministry
Through the words of the Gospel, we walk with Jesus as he travels to the houses of friends—Mary, Martha and Lazarus. This week’s Gospel reading invites us to reflect on the particularly profound and shortest verse of the Bible, “Jesus wept.”
Very likely, we have asked ourselves in the past, “Why did Jesus decide to go on with his original journey even though he had been notified about the illness of Lazarus, ‘the one he loved’?” If Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead when he reached the house of his grieving friends, Mary and Martha, why did he weep when he arrived?
Perhaps we should consider that Jesus wept for something greater than the event at hand. We can consider what the sepulcher, or tomb, represented— the entombment of “the one he loved,” namely, the sick, the hungry, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the homeless and the outcast. Jesus wept.
This Sunday, as we walk with Jesus to Lazarus’ tomb, let us ask ourselves, “Who is in that sepulcher?” “Who are the people we don’t see because they are wrapped in linens with ‘a stone lay across’?” “Who are those we cannot see because a stone of bias, a stone of prejudice or a stone of discrimination has been laid across the cave where society has placed them?”
What are the unfair norms, procedures and lack of representation that act as a wrap, obstructing the movement of those Jesus loves? Who are the people to whom we might be denying life, and placing in a symbolic sepulcher? Likewise, let us ask ourselves, “What are the wrappings and stones that hinder us from moving to build the reign of God here and now?”
As we continue our Lenten journey reflecting on this Gospel, let us pray that Christ may come to our hearts and our communities crying out in a loud voice, “Come out!” as he did to Lazarus. May Christ “Untie them, that they may go build the reign of God.” May we worthily approach the joy of Easter with renewed hearts. May we praise God for the glory of the reign that is already manifesting.
As we continue our Lenten journey at Marquette, we accompany our 19 Marquette students preparing to become new or confirmed Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). One way we accompany those in RCIA is through attention to the Scrutinies, which are ancient rites as part of the RCIA process. The Scrutinies are profoundly rooted in our human experience and for reflection with the help of the Gospel. This Week’s Gospel, The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-44) is the Third Scrutiny.