Introduction: The text of John 11:1-37, starts with the description of a sick man, Lazarus, and ends with the conquest of Jesus of over death. The text is reach in dialogues which one can identify with: Jesus and the Apostles, Jesus and Martha, Jesus and Mary, Jesus and Lazarus, and Jesus with the Father. This Lectio Divina will pay only attention to the dialogue between Jesus and the Apostles and Jesus and the two sisters. There will be a second part in the next Lectio Divina.
Thank you for sending us
Your Son, the Good Shepherd
Who gave up his life
To rescue us from the power of
Sin and death and to lead us to
The fullness of life
- Read the text John 11:1-37 read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: In this text of St John’s gospel Jesus, in his relationship with the Apostles, the two sisters, Lazarus and the Jews, wants to show his power over death and most of all the manifestation of God’s Glory. Jesus appears here as the Life of the world and John gives a vivid presentation of the effect of believing in Jesus.
Central Message: ‘Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe’. ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would hot have died’. ‘Your brother…will rise again’…’I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’. ‘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?
a) ‘Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe’. Although Jesus knew that Lazarus was seriously sick he also knew that the illness will not end in death but in God’s glory. The intention of the dialogue of Jesus with his disciples is to clarify the significance of the miracle (sign). He wants them to understand the meaning of ‘awakening of Lazarus from his rest’, but they didn’t. They thought he was talking about Lazarus’s sleep that is why they told him that he will then get better. So Jesus had to tell them plainly ‘Lazarus is dead’, this caused Jesus a great joy ‘I am glad’ because had Lazarus not died, there would have been no miracle to confirm their faith. He waited for two days before going to help him. He, in a sense, allowed his friend to die so that his disciple must believe. So, what is Jesus trying to do is to bring people to faith in him, the fullness of God’s revelation. His miracle at Bethany with Lazarus was not to do a favour to his friend but to reveal himself a life for all.
b) ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. ‘Your brother…will rise again’…’I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’. There is a reproach from both sisters made to Jesus when he went to meet them at Bethany where they lived. Perhaps with this reproach some other insinuation can be added to understand the anguished cries and the human frailty of the family: why did you delay to come here? Didn’t you love my brother? Don’t you care about us? Questions like these could come to anyone when tragedy strikes suddenly, we hear people sometimes saying: why to us? Why you didn’t prevent it from happening? Why did you allowed so much pain and misery in our life? Apparently Jesus remained indifferent when they told him that Lazarus was grievously sick, but he knew that his sickness will not end with dead but in God’s Glory. The answer of Jesus to their reproach was a promise ‘Your brother will rise again’; Martha knew he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day, as it was believed and taught from ancient times. But Jesus brings here to the community of Bethany the new way to believe, that is, in the resurrection of the now, in his very person because he is the source of life “I am the life, I am the resurrection” (11:25)…”and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”. ‘Do you believe this?’ Jesus may not answer all the questions that we might wish he would answer. But it is clear that he is completely with us in our pain and loss, deeply moved and grieved. This is the consolation that Jesus brought not only to Martha and Mary but to all of us who believe in him.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- When we go to meet Jesus what do I look for?
- With whom can you identify yourself most: the disciples or the sisters?
- When experienced times of despair and hope, life and death, got confused in your thought? What kept up your faith?