FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT Year B

*Alternate* Gospel John 11:1-53 (from the poem “Lazarus” by Dan Doyle)

John 11:1-53 (from the poem “Lazarus” by Dan Doyle)

I
What is there that can
diminish the sorrow of loss
when one whom we’ve loved dies?
Sorrow, oh sorrow deep!
Our brother, Lazarus is dead!
Emptiness has entered the house.
There is only the sound of wailing.
The rooms are redolent
with frankincense and myrrh.
We pray the Kaddish,
make the preparations for the meal
that will be served to those
who come to help us bury him.
“If only his friend had been here,
He would not have died,”
We say to one another.
If only…If only…
Is our desperate prayer.

 

II
“Rabbi, If you had been here
my brother would not have died.”
“Martha, he will rise again.”
“Yes, I know this, Rabbi.
At the Resurrection.”
“I am the one who raises the dead.
Do you believe me, Martha?”
“Yes, Master.  Oh, yes, I believe.
I know you and with all my heart
I believe in you.”
Then, Jesus wept.

III
The crowd gathered before the tomb
desperate with terrible grief and loss.
Then they heard Martha and Mary’s friend,
the one they called Jesus,
ordering some of the men to remove
the heavy stone that had been placed
at the entrance to the sepulcher some days ago.
Confused and wary they rolled it back.

The dark heart of the death-ditch
was then revealed to us all.
Some of us fell back for fear of the stench
we thought would emanate from the grave,
but a fresh breeze wafted out instead.
A breathless silence fell over us.
Then, with a voice full of authority,
Jesus spoke, and everything came alive
around us…

“Lazarus, come out!”
As if one, we sucked in a surprised breath.
There, standing in the cave’s dark maw,
was the grave-wrapped Lazarus
strait, tall, his face still covered in cloth.
“Remove his bindings. Set him free.”
A young man stepped forward awkwardly
and nervously took the wrappings away
then stumbled back and we all could see…
The look in Lazarus’ eyes
wide with wonder,
struck all of us dumb.
There he was!
Life breathing in him,
The spirit-spark in his eyes.
We rushed to him,
our faces streaming tears.

In the days that followed
we talked excitedly about this miracle
that we had all been witness to.
And, still, many could not believe
in their weary and frightened hearts
that this son of an old carpenter from Nazareth,
this wandering rabbi, Jesus,
might be the one we have been waiting for
since the time of Moses and the prophets.
But some of us knew that this Jesus,
who had come so gently,
yet so powerfully among us,
was, indeed, the Messiah of God
and we began to tell everyone we met
what we had seen him do for Lazarus, our friend.

The words of Dan Doyle.