Today’s Gospel reading is the bittersweet, and well known, story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus. I say bittersweet because, although the miracle itself is important, we are shown a side of Jesus’ humanity that not often comes to light in The Bible: his empathy and his pain. The mere tears of Mary drive Jesus to Lazarus’ grave to weep – a very human reaction to the death and loss of a friend.
As we know, there is a joyful and poignant ending to this miracle, so, despite its importance in Jesus’ deeds, it’s not what I focused on as part of this week’s Mass readings.
All of this week’s readings have a theme, though: death through sin and life through God. Repetition was strong in emphasising just how necessarily deadly sin is. And, as we walk in life ever nearer to another Eastertide, another yearly celebration of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, the scriptures remind us just how crucial Jesus’ life and the weeks leading up to his death are.
Take, for instance, the second reading this week: from St Paul’s letters to the Romans:
“But if Christ lives in you, the spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin. If the spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then He who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of His Spirit in you.”