Day 29: Wednesday of 4th week of Lent

A tomb similar to where Lazarus was laid for his burial

RAISED TO LIFE BY JESUS

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Book of the prophet Isaiah 49: 8-15

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St John 5: 17-30

1.3.  Simple Comment: The prophet Isaiah brings before the exiled people of Israel an astounding future: restoration of land, pastures, elimination of hunger and thirst, freedom of prisoners, the coming out of people enveloped by darkness, comfort and mercy to the afflicted. He completely rejects the thought of the people that the Lord has forsaken and forgotten them. In the Gospel Jesus claims that the Father has given him the divine power to do the works of God which consist of two fundamental activities: giving life and giving judgment.

 

  1. Monument: Bethany

2.1.  If one stands in Jerusalem and looks towards the Mount of Olives, one will not see Bethany. Bethany is just over the top of the mountain, on its eastern side and thus is hidden from Jerusalem’s view. Bethany is famous in the Gospels for being the village of the sisters Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. Jesus often received hospitality from this family especially whenever he would go to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, and it would be difficult to find lodging due to the crowd which has similarly gathered in the Holy City to fulfill the prescriptions of the Law.

2.2.  The claim made by Jesus in today’s Gospel – that the Father has offered him to do His work of giving life – was wonderfully fulfilled in this town of Bethany with the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It is this unheard-of event that sets the motion for the Sanhedrin to seek Jesus’ death. Literally true then was that passage uttered by Jesus during the Last Supper: “Greater love than this no man has to give his life for his friend.” His love for his friend Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary cost Jesus his life!

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  Jesus always claimed his life-purpose. This is what the evangelist of the Fourth Gospel succinctly enunciated in Chapter 10 verse 10: “I came that they may have life and have it in its fullness.” The giving of life to its fullness means the sharing of the divine life. This did not merely consist in an ordinary apportioning of life. In the same Fourth Gospel Jesus pointed at himself as the Good Shepherd who will lay down his life for his sheep. Giving life for him then meant giving up his own; this was the manner by which it was willed by the Father who gave him this divine power to give life.

3.2.  One author in fact quipped: “All of us were born to live; only Jesus was born to die.” In appreciating the work of God through Jesus we cannot just name the many miracles and cures he has done, or the many excellent preaching he has made. The true work of Jesus consists in that Hour, that precious and singular Hour of Calvary, when he laid down his life for us. Indeed the sign of the cross is the sign of our salvation. All good came to us from Calvary. The same good is what Jesus asks us to give each other.

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: Our language indicates our cultural traits as a people. Sometime back, a foreign sociologist characterized us as a people without its own principles. We are used to pakikisama to our detriment. However, a Filipino psychologist looked deeper into this word and found out that it is just one level – and very low at that – of our human relations. Actually there are other ascending levels of tighter bonds of Filipino relations in the words: pakikisalimuha, pakikisangkot, pakikibaka and pakikiisa. According to this nationalist, our culture claims the contrary: the richness of standing for one another to the point of the ultimate sacrifice of oneself. Ninoy exemplified this when he claimed that the Filipino is worth dying for. Nay, our Christian heritage claims this even more when through baptism we have identified our life-purpose to that of Jesus.