FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and led you back to the soil of Israel … And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live … “ (Ezek. 37:12 ff)
Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!” The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’ (Jn. 11:43)
In Jesus’ raising of Lazarus to new life we see the prophecy of Ezekiel being fulfilled: ‘I shall raise you from you graves … and you will live’.
The story of Lazarus is a story of a man with a real identity: he is the brother of Martha and Mary and a close friend of Jesus. It is a story about sickness and death, sadness and joy. It is a story about dying and coming back to life.
It is also a story that points to us being unbound from our sins, from all that estranges us from God and separates us from our neighbours. It is a story of being unbound from our fears and doubts and from all the things which prevent us from being our true selves. It is a story of stepping over the bindings, being freed from death (- the death of sin -) and standing in the light of the Lord and walking with newness of life.
Didn’t Jesus say to his Apostles, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Mt.18:18)? So, whenever we repent and confess our sins to a priest who is acting in persona Christi, we will hear those words of “loosening” and “freedom”: ‘I absolve you of your sins …’ And in hearing those words, Jesus’ command to unbind Lazarus and set him free, become a reality in our own lives.
Let us examine our consciences. Let us examine our lives and ask the Lord: ‘Lord, how have I offended you?’ ‘Lord, tell me what are the sins that I have committed which have bound me and kept me in darkness?’
Fr Philip Sainter