Fifth Sunday of Lent: John 11:1-45 (Come Forth Lazarus)
In today’s gospel, Jesus is surrounded by a culture of death. The disciples are afraid to go back to Bethany, the Jews want to stone Jesus to death, Mary and Martha are distraught over the death of their brother Lazarus, and Lazarus himself lies bound in the darkness of the tomb. It appears as if there is no hope. We are told that Jesus weeps because of his friend but perhaps he also weeps because of the lack of hope and faith in those around him.
Since 2010, over one hundred Honduran human rights activists have been murdered. One of the most high profile cases was the indigenous and environmental rights campaigner Berta Cáceres, who was killed in her home in March 2016. She had been leading the campaign against Central America’s biggest hydropower project, a cascade of four dams in the Gualcarque river basin, which has the backing of international engineering and finance companies from Europe. These dams will do untold damage to an already fragile ecological system. Her colleagues and friends continue the campaign in full knowledge of the dangers of being an activist in Honduras. Their courage and determination give hope to thousands of people struggling to survive.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus, surrounded by a culture of violence and despair, gives hope, compassion, resurrection and love to those who are in turmoil. It is easy to say that nothing can be done. It is easy to remain cynical. But if we remain hopeless then nothing will be achieved. Jesus says, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ And to the people he says, ‘Unbind him, let him go.’ It is a message for all of us to come away from the culture of death. We need help to unbind one another. We are called to take away the stone, to come out of the tomb, to unbind the oppressed and let them free. What we do, what we buy, how we use the plentiful resources at our disposal all affect the wider global community. Today’s Gospel is a story of liberation. Jesus gives a new insight into the power of faith over death. When we feel helpless where situations of injustice are concerned, we must remember that we are full of light, we can do small things, we can help to remove the restraints of injustice instead of sitting in the darkness.
All it takes is one good person to restore hope!…In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound… the principle of the common good immediately becomes a summons to solidarity with the poorest of our brothers and sisters (Laudato Si’, 158)
Hope means to keep living amid desperation and to keep humming in the darkness. Hope is knowing that there is love, it is trust in tomorrow, it is falling asleep and waking to work when the sun rises. In the midst of a gale at sea, it is to discover land. In the eyes of another it is to see understanding. As long as there is hope, there will also be prayer. And God will be holding you in his loving hands. (Henri Nouwen)