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Reflection on the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Posted on March 17, 2024, by Eleanor Craig SL

The very familiar Gospel story of Lazarus’ death and rising has so many Christian themes running through it: death and dying, of course; life and hope; faithful friendship; rising and resurrection. And through all these themes runs the main theme of Christian faith:  

The love of God has power to restore and transform life.

Let’s apply this message of the Gospel to our own times, when despair, injustice and violence seem to dominate the news. When death and the worst forms of dying are claiming so many, while the powerful seem indifferent to human decency, incapable of compassion, dying themselves of their own hardened hearts. The Lazaruses of our times are so many and so varied – civilians, government officials, military, paramilitary, patriots and terrorists in so many countries. What is needed to call all these back to life in our times? 

Today’s story of Lazarus shows us that the Beloved One of God sees all this death and waits to be called. Yet when we call out unceasingly, sorrowing over those who are already dead, the one who brings God’s saving power seems to delay still longer. How hard it is to hold onto what we once believed, that the risen Christ loves each individual – suffering victim, hard-hearted aggressor, sorrowing observer. The risen Christ loves every single one with a love powerful enough to restore life.

God’s Beloved does not act alone but through us, his Body today. As in the Lazarus Gospel reading, so now there must be individuals who love those who are suffering and dying as God loves them, and who are even willing to love the ones dying of their own hardened hearts. Second, there must be a believing community surrounding the dying and the bereaved, observers who look with hope for God’s life-saving power, believing God will overcome even death. And third, the community must be willing to take an active part in restoring life, at the very least by loosening all judgments that bind the dead. This means letting go of deadening negativity toward the hard-hearted, life-strangling blame of victims and indifference toward the innocent.

Lazarus’s story, applied to our own times, is a difficult challenge. Can I regard Putin with honest love? Or the Hamas terrorists or Netanyahu? In the face of worldwide suffering and death, is my hope in God’s life-saving power strong enough? Will I let go of my own hard-hearted attitudes toward those I hold accountable? Will I be an obstacle or a believing witness as the Risen Christ leads the way in God’s life-saving work? May the tender, loving presence of God make all things new through us.


Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. Now retired, she still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.