Martha and Mary
Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent Year A – April 6th 2014
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
There was a man named Lazarus who lived in the village of Bethany with the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and he was ill. – It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent this message to Jesus, ‘Lord, the man you love is ill’. On receiving the message, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified’.
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when he heard that Lazarus was ill he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judaea’. The disciples said, ‘Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews wanted to stone you; are you going back again?’ Jesus replied: ‘
Are there not twelve hours in the day?
A man can walk in the daytime without stumbling
because he has the light of this world to see by;
but if he walks at night he stumbles,
because there is no light to guide him.’
He said that and then added, ‘Our friend Lazarus is resting, I am going to wake him’. The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he is able to rest he is sure to get better’. The phrase Jesus used referred to the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by ‘rest’ he meant ‘sleep’, so Jesus put it plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.’ Then Thomas – known as the Twin – said to the other disciples, ‘Let us go too, and die with him’.
On arriving, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days already. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you’. ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘1 know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’. Jesus said:
‘I am the resurrection.
If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.
Do you believe this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in a low voice, ‘The Master is here and wants to see you’. Hearing this, Mary got up quickly and went to him. Jesus had not yet come into the village; he was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were in the house sympathising with Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, ‘Lord, come and see’. Jesus wept; and the Jews said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But there were some who remarked, ‘He opened the eyes of the blind man, could he not have prevented this man’s death?’ Still sighing, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, ‘Take the stone away’. Martha said to him, ‘Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day’. Jesus replied, ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said:
‘Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer.
I knew indeed that you always hear me,
but I speak for the sake of all these who stand round me,
so that they may believe it was you who sent me.’
When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free’.
Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed in him.
When people read this they say they see a new side of Jesus. Like seeing other sides to a friend. Never knew he was like that. Jesus over the death of his friend! A real human being, son of God, God of heaven, man of the earth.
Then the heart of Jesus – a human heart. He liked friends and he found a home, a safe place with them. Just over the hill and away from the mob. Picture him there – the talk, the chat, the prayers, the love. And endless refreshment and love, more love. That’s Jesus.
And us – is Jesus this type of person. The one who can share a laugh, eat a scone, have a drink or a cuppa. The one who’d give a wink at the sign of peace. And not so all so serious about religion. Sad saints are the bane of our lives.
He is a good friend. Friendship gives new spirit.
When life is over we will thank for friends and regret the way we have drifted or hurt each other. Friendship is when another’s thoughts become at least or more important than my own.
Jesus needed friends. No harm to say we need friends. And they needed him. He was in their love. In every friendship he is the third. Wherever there is real and genuine love no matter who or what the people are, God is there, the source of love. Family, marriage, friendship of all kinds. The moments of real love, of real care for another – God is there.
So the resurrection and the life is not just for after death. It is for now. We raise each other up in friendship and in love. In that is the grace now of the Lord, himself a friend, for when we love, God lives in us.
Donal Neary SJ