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March 22, 1996     The Message
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March 22, 1996

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary-- The final sign: Resurrection of Lazarus Commentary for 1996: Fifth Sunday of ,4: John 11:1.45 John Jesus does not miracles. In miracles are i.e. they are signs a clue to the iden- of Jesus. who he is, what he his mission to the world. John Jesus' signs with a wish people, Tabernacles or Booths, or Dedication. A given sign is usually John with a statement of Jesus that or function. of Jesus' friend Lazarus is the signs or miracles used by John. to which John seems to connect f Jesus is Passover. This is Jesus' last of three Passover ob- ohn. Passover commemo- of the Israelites from slavery in from slavery to freedom, from u- -. of Jesus that John will acttlon with the resurrection of Lazarus me resurrection and the life Those though they die, yet shall live, and believe in me shall never die." is a family of two sisters and Bethany, a small town two erusalem. Their names are Martha, B v FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST Mary, and Lazarus. Jesus receives a message from the sisters, Lazarus is ill. Jesus tells his disciples this illness is "not unto death, but for the glory of God...." In no rush to get to Bethany, Jesus delays two days more, then decides to go to his friends. The disciples are concerned because Bethany is close to Jeru- salem, where there have been at- tempts on Jesus' freedom and life. He announces that Lazarus has died, that he was glad about it, be- cause this death was to be a vehicle of faith for the disciples. As they approach Bethany they are met by Martha. The dialogue between Jesus and Martha is John's opportunity to incorporate Jesus' statement that he is resurrection and life. Just as important is the statement John allows Martha to make, a profound profession of faith in Jesus: "... Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." As the story continues, Lazarus' other sister, Mary, goes out to meet Jesus. It is John's opportunity to show the complete humanity of Jesus just after Martha had proclaimed him as Messiah and Son of God. Jesus sees the grief of Mary and friends of the fam- ily. John portrays Jesus as being deeply moved and agitated by this grief. Jesus is so overcome by com- passion that he himseIf weeps, thus giving us the fa- mous shortest verse of the Bible: "Jesus wept," John 11:35. John recalls the previous miracle or sign when Jesus gives sight to a man born blind. A spokesperson wonders if he who was capable of such an act could not also have kept Lazarus from death. Of course, Jesus will do better. He will restore life that was lost. John again notes Jesus' compassion. All come to the tomb. To certify that Lazarus is truly dead, John notes that he has been dead four days. This is impor- tant because it was-believed that the deceased's spirit hovers around the body for three days. After that there is no chance of survival. Jesus calls Lazarus from the tomb back to life. This story ends with the statement that many believed in Jesus when they saw what had happened. But what did they believe? Certainly John intends to say that res- urrection of Jesus brings about faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. But the answer is not com- plete until we know the sequel to the story. News of Jesus' role in Lazarus' resuon reaches authorities in nearby Jerusalem, They meet. A decision is made -- Jesus must die. John puts into the mouth of Caiaphas the high priest a profound theological statement, that "it is expedient that one man should die for the nation, rather than have the whole nation perish," Then John adds, "not[ the nation only, but to gather into one the chil of God who are scattered abroad." This is John's inter- pretation of the resurrection of Lazarus. Hewho is himself resurrection and life must die to b resur- rection and life not only to his own people but to all God's children. Lazarus' resurrection is the ign or proof that Jesus can do exactly that. John connected this miracle with Passover, a feast that is now given a new and final interpretation - Jesus is the true Passover Lamb whose sacrificial death will bring freedom from death not only to his own people but to all God's children. Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11 PRINCIPALSHIP OPENING LUERS HIGH SCHOOL FORT WAYNE, INDIANA Emolhnenc 500 and State of Indiana Accredited MUST BE PRACTICING CATHOLICS AN ADMINISTRATION LICENSE ;r application, please contact THOLIC SCHOOLS OFFICE P.O. Box 390 FoR Wayne, Indiana 46801 (219) 422-4611 r  be submitted by April 15. 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