I want you to focus for a moment on the words of relationship in this Gospel. “The sisters sent word to Jesus saying, ‘Master, the one you love is ill.’… Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus… he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus is asleep’… ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died’… as soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him… she fell at his feet… Jesus wept, so the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him.’… Father, I thank you for hearing me.”
There is something even more incredible that the raising of Lazarus from death to life, and that is the realness of the relationship the Jesus enters into with the ones that he calls friends. Jesus and these three siblings, they respond to each other; they move each other’s hearts. The sisters don’t have to tell Jesus to come, they merely have to say that their brother is ill. And Jesus goes, he goes back to an area where the crowds were trying to stone him to death. Martha and Mary meet him with all the pain of loss in their hearts even as they take comfort in his presence. And probably one of the most powerful sentences of the Gospel: “And Jesus wept.” Jesus wept at the thought of his friend Lazarus
being separated from him.
We learn so early in life that Jesus loves us that we stop thinking about what that means… but think about how your heart has mourned at the sorrow of a friend or taken delight in their joy, and see that in this Gospel Jesus shows that so do is his heart connected to our own. And being held in his heart, he turns to the Father on our behalf
and destroys our death.
The most important people of this community are with us today. The elect are those catechumens who have been called to receive baptism this Easter. They have heard the voice of Jesus call to them like the woman at the well and had their eyes opened to his presence like the man born blind. Now as their Lenten journey continues, they long to have their hearts connected to Christ by sharing in his baptism, and having chains of sin and death broken forever. They will soon hear Jesus say, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. Untie the ones I love from death, that where I am they also may be.”
The rest of us take part in that prayer of Christ, as we are already joined to him in Baptism. So today we make that real as pray over these elect in the third and final scrutiny of their Lenten journey. What we will speak over them is a prayer of exorcism, a pleaded to the Father to deliver them from sin and death and all the dangers that surround them so that they may arrive safely to the Easter sacraments and find their longings fulfilled even beyond their own expectations. As we pray in silence for them, as we offer our intercessions for them, as I lay my hands upon them, and as I call out to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit… do not be ignorant of the power of what we participate in. You promised to hold these elect in your prayer and your affection. Together in Christ, may we now do that in earnest.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.