There’s lot to ponder and reflect from our Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent. Perhaps the most pressing question comes from Jesus (v25-26): “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Those words almost jump out off the page, a direct question to us now: “Do you believe this?” Do you believe Christ comes to bring you life? To bring us all life? If so, roll away any stones and open up your tomb. Take off your funeral garments and binds and BE FREE. Because Jesus doesn’t speak in symbol or metaphor, he doesn’t whisper secrets, nor does he mince his words: he IS resurrection and life.
We are the recipients of this life, and in living the fullness of this life, we bring others to life. Sounds simple, right? Of course, we all have things that bind us, shove us back in that tomb and roll the stone back into place: deadlines and due dates, emails, phone calls, visiting in-laws, dirty nappies, traffic, rising interest rates, the price of bananas – and that’s just my list! I’m sure you also have your list of things that steal life from you. Things that frustrate, anger, sadden, depress, misdirect and distract you from what really matters: you have life!
If we don’t roll that stone, if we still cling to our burial garments and binds, we become prophets of gloom. We offer an empty proclamation. We complain, or bemoan, or point fingers, or question or scape goat – same as the Jews gathered around Mary and Martha (v37). We are not the guilt-ladened people that Catholics are so often portrayed as – we are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song! We have a joyous Gospel, a vibrant Gospel, a “yes!” Gospel!
The church, in her wisdom, offers us this reading to pray with as we draw closer to Easter. Our prayer is simple: what stops me from rising to the life? What stops me from hearing the call to come out of the tomb, to remove the bindings, to be free?