5LA20. Ezekiel 37:12-14. The Hebrew people had been taken away into captivity by the Babylonians but now they are released. Now through Ezekiel the Lord God speaks who raises up his people from the world of their captivity that was like a grave for them. God gives them renewed life by returning them to their own land. The Church gives us this reading as a way to prefigure Jesus’ own death and resurrection that will raise us who were dead because of sin but now have a resurrection to new life because Jesus has redeemed us from our captivity to sin.
John 11:1-45. When Jesus heard that Lazarus, whom Jesus loved dearly, was ill, “He said, ‘This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’” He did not go immediately but “remained in the place where he was for two days.” Then Jesus said, “Let us go back to Judea.” Then his disciples warned him that the Jewish authorities were ready to kill him if he returned. Jesus says in his own mystical way that the light of the world was with him, which is to say he knew that he was doing what God the Father wanted of him. In last week’s gospel Jesus said the illness happened “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus again asserts that here Lazarus’ illness was deliberately allowed to progress to death so that the works of God might be made visible. Thomas, ever-the-down-to-earth realist, says that, in returning now to Judea, death awaits them there. In Bethany Jesus meets Martha who is clearly disappointed that Jesus did not return to cure her brother but instead let him die. Despite her disappointment in Jesus, Martha says, “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” Next Mary came expressing that same disappointment with Jesus, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus, in his humanity, was deeply troubled and wept that he had to let Martha and Mary suffer such great pain in the death of their brother. When Jesus came to the cave where Lazarus was entombed, he had the stone taken away. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” “Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.’” Then Jesus, speaking to God the Father, said, “Because of the crowd here I have said,” “that you always hear me,” “that they may believe that you sent me.” Then Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come out,” and Lazarus who was dead for four days, “came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands.” The Jewish people, who saw “what he had done, began to believe in him.” The glory of God was plainly visible to all. Jesus was without a doubt the Messiah, the Christ. The pain of death became the joy of the resurrection. In Lazarus’ death and resurrection, Jesus was prophesying his own death and resurrection. John 11:47-48 reads, “So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, ‘What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation,” which is to say the chief priests and the Pharisees wound lose their authority to the Romans or to Jesus. No thought was given to the fact that (John 9:16b) a sinful man cannot do such signs nor (John 9:31-32) that God only listens to a man who is devout and obedient so that he could open the eyes of a man born blind in last Sunday’s gospel. The chief priests and the Pharisees were blinded by their desire to keep their authority and all the privileges that went with it. So they plotted to kill Jesus who was far more popular with the people than with the chief priests.
Romans 8:8-11. “Brothers and Sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells within.” We must understand the term ’flesh’. Genesis 1:26-27 says God created man in his divine image and Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostril the breath of life.” John 1:14a reads: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Luke 2:6 says: “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child,”Jesus, who is God made flesh while still remaining God. Flesh in itself is not bad because flesh was made by God and God saw that it was good. What is bad is that we allow ourselves to be ruled by our flesh so that we become slaves of our flesh. Our spirit, which is God’s life within us, ought to rule us instead. Biology, the science of physical living things, lists us as homo sapiens, that is the human animal. God sees us, if we choose to belong to God, as his sons or daughters. Our life is a choice we live daily. Do we choose to be just an animal of this world, living in the flesh and not in the spirit; OR do we live daily as a son or daughter of God?