March 29, 2020 5th Sunday of Lent Fr. Andy Upah

Fifth Sunday of Lent


Reading 1 EZ 37:12-14

Responsorial PsalmPS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8.

R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Reading 2 ROM 8:8-11

Verse Before The Gospel JN 11:25A, 26

Gospel JN 11:1-45


Today we hear of another one of Jesus’ miraculous signs that He performed, the story is called the raising of Lazarus.  An interesting thing about reading scripture is that every time we read it, something new tends to strike us, a different phrase stands out to us.

This time, the word “perturbed” really stuck out, it is used twice.  John said Jesus was “perturbed” twice, in verse 33 and in verse 38, and right in the middle of those both, in verse 35, we have one of the shortest verses in the bible, “And Jesus wept.”

I looked up this word perturbed and the dictionary says it means, “feeling anxiety or concern; unsettled.”  I also tried to find where else it is used, and it only appears in a handful of other places, and often it is translated as “deeply troubled.”

So, just to hear the first mention again, verse 33 says, “When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled.”

Shortly after that Jesus wept, and the Jews said it was because of how much he loved Lazarus, but to me, there is something else going on here. 

See, Lazarus, Martha and Mary were three of Jesus’ best lay friends.  Jesus had three really good priest friends, Peter, James and John, plus all of the Apostles were his good priest friends, but Lazarus, Martha and Mary seem to be his best lay friends as near as I can tell, and they believed Jesus to be the Messiah.

Recall how Jesus got Peter to make a confession of faith... Jesus asked the Apostles, “who do you say that I am?” And Peter responds, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus says he is correct and tells Peter, “[On you] I will build my Church.” The rest of the apostles hear and believe in Jesus also.

In this story today, Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

Martha gives her confession of faith, “She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.’”  

But then Mary joins the party, and says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  And Jesus became perturbed and deeply troubled and He wept.

And then some of the others in the party said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?

Again, Jesus was perturbed - and that is the point, these people have seen all of these miracles performed, all of these signs where people are healed, yet they are so quick to doubt his power, do quick to lose faith in Him.

Similarly, two chapters later, when Jesus is talking about His betrayer, Judas, he becomes perturbed again, and I believe it is over the lack of faith from His friends who have seen His great works, confessed their belief in Him as the Messiah and should have the most faith in Him.

We are in a time in which many people are perturbed themselves, they are feeling anxiety and they are unsettled, deeply troubled by the Coronavirus and the death it is causing. This might be a cause to lose faith, to say, “where is God in all of this, why isn’t he protecting us and answering our prayers?” 

Remember, Jesus waited 2 days to go to Lazarus. He could have gone right away and prevented him from dying, but Jesus had another plan. But we know that God is with us through all of this, He cares for us, He loves us as His children.  Jesus is with us as our friend who has experienced death, but He has overcome it.  

He suffered and died for our sins that we would also be raised from the grave. He did not promise to prevent suffering, but rather He came to redeem it, to bring good out of it. 

At this time of great concern and anxiety, we must hold fast to that knowledge, we must cling to our faith, looking at all of the wonders Jesus did then, and further, all of the times that God has worked in our lives.

Think about those times, right now, when God was close to you? (Pause) Think about the times when He worked miracles in your life or those of your friends. (Pause) If we have the eyes to see, the eyes of faith, we will see Him working still, all around us.  

This is why we celebrate anniversaries, why we celebrate holy days every year, so we remember those good things that happened in our lives and the good things God has done throughout history.  

A year from now we might very well look back at this whole pandemic and remember how God brought us through it too, but at the moment, in the midst of it, it is hard to see, so we keep our faith and we put our trust in Jesus.

God is still with us, still in our midst, He cares for us, He is good and He wants us to remember those times, and look for the other times when He is showing us His love and His presence, in order that we keep our faith and that we trust in Him.  

I pray that Jesus will remind you of His great love for you this very day.