One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

March 09, 2008

For the Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11:1-45
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Romans 8:8-11

Today’s Mass, in all its readings and the words leading into the Eucharistic Prayer, we hear the promise of our resurrection.
Through the mysteries of our Baptism, Anointing, and Eucharistic Communion, we receive the Spirit of God.
If we choose to stay faithful by working together with the Spirit, then the Father who raised Christ from the dead will give everlasting joy and life to our earthly bodies through his Spirit dwelling in us.
Despite the glory of that promise, suffering still shakes us.
Even though Jesus was to raise Lazarus from the dead, suffering still shook him so that he groaned in the spirit, and wept for Lazarus and his grieving sisters.
Today Jesus called himself “the Son of God” while foretelling that in Lazarus death would give way “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Then he spoke of joy, telling his disciples: “Lazarus has died.... And I am GLAD for you that I was not there, that you may believe.”
On the way to raise Lazarus, Jesus met the dead man’s sister, Martha, and he spoke as God to her: “I AM RESURRECTION ... I AM LIFE.”
He took hold of Martha’s faith, and squeezed out more than she had yet said.
Whoever believes in ME,
even if he dies,
will live.
Do you believe this?

Telling his disciples his own glory as Son of God, telling them his gladness that they would have faith from seeing his glory that day, telling Martha his own Godhood— knowing fully his own Godly glory and not shying to speak it into the faces of men, Jesus nonetheless thoroughly opened himself to suffering today.
“And Jesus wept.”
Deep inside himself he shook and in the spirit he groaned— as the original tongue of the Gospel puts it: twice today the Gospel tells us he groaned in the spirit inside himself.
Even though Jesus is God the Son, and was there to raise Lazarus from the dead, he knows human pain, and it stabs him sharply in the Gospel today.
The Gospel today is rich with words of feeling, the feelings of Jesus: his affection for his friends; his gladness for the faith of his disciples; his sorrow in the face of death.
The human feelings of Jesus are plentiful and alive in the Gospel today.
All the same, his own Godhood, his strong knowledge of it, his open words of it, and his outright hunt for men’s faith in it are also lively in the Gospel today.
True God and True Man— True Man and True God— Jesus is all; the Father has sent him; he wants men to hear and know it.
Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”

He wants the crowd to believe that the heavenly Father sent him.
Where did the Father send him?
The heavenly Father sent him to the open mouth of death, and its rot, and its stench.
Raising his eyes to heaven, Jesus did not ask the Father himself to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Rather, Jesus had already called himself the Resurrection and the Life whom the Father sent from heaven.
“God-the-Resurrection-and-the-Life-in-Person” confronts a putrid corpse, and he does something imperial and majestic— but also seemingly laughable and insane: he shouts at a dead man, “he cried out in a loud voice.”
In the original tongue of the Gospel, the word for the shouting of Jesus today is the same as for the shouting of the Palm Sunday crowd, and the same word as for the shouting of the Good Friday crowd.
On Palm Sunday, the shouting is full of joyful welcome, “Hosanna!”
On Good Friday, the shouting is full of angry condemnation, “Crucify him!”
What feelings fill the shouting of Jesus today?
Is it the gladness he spoke of, the gladness of letting his disciples see and believe?
Does the shouting of Jesus today come out of that deep place inside himself that shook with pain and groaned in the spirit?
Is he shouting from anger at ancient sin that brought death into our infant race, and is he shouting from anger that death swallowed his friend?
If you and I dare to claim that Jesus loves us as he loved his three friends, the siblings Lazarus, Martha, and Mary— if we claim his love toward ourselves, must we also not claim that he shouts at us when we are dead in sin?
What can all his feeling and his divine will and his human will and his shouting do for dead and rotting eardrums?
Will the lifeless, stinking ears take heed?
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth

If a dead man came to life in obedience to Jesus, could we sinners also come to life in obedience to Jesus?
In our freely chosen giving in to our sins, perhaps we need to lay claim to the shouting of Jesus, so that he lays claim to our obedience.
Or is our version of Jesus not manly enough to shout at us?
Or would we reject a Jesus who is God and manly enough to shout at us?
And then would we shout back, “Crucify him!”
Would we not prefer to be filled with his Spirit so as to shout, “Hosanna!” precisely because we saw and heard him shouting in his Godliness and his manliness, shouting loudly enough to raise a rotting dead man back to life today?
Jesus shouts for anger, for joy, for sorrow.
He is the shouting voice and word of the heavenly Father.
As a man like us, Jesus wept for Lazarus his friend.
As the eternal God, he raised Lazarus from the dead.
In his love for us all, Christ gives us the sacraments to lift us up to everlasting life. [Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer on the Fifth Sunday of Lent]

If we want to live, then let us hunt down sin in our lives and stop it, because we hear the God-Man shouting at us even in his Body and Blood.

That God Be Glorified in All