by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB
It was John, the Apostle and Evangelist and he alone among the Twelve, who followed Jesus to Calvary. On this 5th Sunday of gathering dusk, the first Scripture recalls the injustice of Jesus’ death. In the Gospel, John describes the supreme act of friendship and love of the Savior, an act which propelled Jesus into the hands of evil men, into the darkest hour of the Cross.
The opening words at Mass (Psalm 43) are as the cry of Jesus, “Give me justice, O God,” for ‘faithless, deceitful, cunning’ men are plotting against me. In his Passion narrative John will describe the horror of that injustice thoroughly. But evil will end with God rescuing Jesus from death by the Resurrection. As Ezekiel, prophet of old put it, ‘those in captivity will have their graves opened and they will rise,’ for the spirit of God will restore them to life. Thus, God also rescues us, and victory over death is ours together with Jesus, for we have followed Him.
Indeed, “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption”(Psalm 130). We repeat this, for it is true. Then St. Paul describes that by nature we were dead, because without the Spirit we lived under penalty of death from sin. We were as good as dead. Yet, ‘Life’ comes, “if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.” God lives in us by the power of Baptism, and that ‘living water’ has its strength through the suffering of Christ on our behalf. ‘If’ we keep Christ with us, we will rise from the dead, for “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.”
And St. John goes marching on. With Nicodemus, Jesus promised rebirth to a new life. With the Samaritan woman, He, ‘Savior of humankind,’ promised life-giving grace. With the man born blind, He gave the light of vision, but also the will to believe. Now, with Lazarus, thoroughly dead and decaying, Jesus showed the mourning sisters and us that victory over death can happen for ordinary human beings. Jesus is the Lord of life and death.
Some of the elders began to accept that Jesus was from God. Others continued to disbelieve and to plot. We must get rid of this man. “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him,” said the chief plotter. Darkness had fallen. They denied you justice, Jesus. We give you our Love.