A heart that weeps

| Deacon Robert Whitney | March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

In the Gospel for the fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear the narrative of the resurrection of Lazarus. While this is a rather long Gospel reading (especially if the “long form” of it is proclaimed), it contains the shortest verse in all of sacred Scripture: “Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35).

And while this is the shortest verse in Scripture, it contains one of the most profound mysteries of faith about the humanity of Christ — this scene provides us with a window to Jesus’ heart; it is a human heart of flesh and blood, and it is a heart that weeps.

The illness and death of Lazarus were not meaningless — far from it! When word reaches Jesus about his friend’s illness, he replies that this illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Indeed, he intentionally waited two days before going, and then tells his disciples he is glad for them that he was not there so that they might believe. The sickness and death of Lazarus were really meant to serve a greater purpose in God’s plan: the revealing of Jesus’ divine glory. Jesus would change this tragedy into a triumph. He would perform the miracle to inspire faith in his disciples, and he would show the movements of his heart, heavy with tears, to inspire compassion by his example.

So, too, our own suffering, as well as our own voluntary little “deaths” (for example, those small acts of self-denial during this season of Lent) can be meaningful. When these crosses of ours are accepted and carried with love, when they are joined to the cross, then they are replete with meaning; they are supernaturalized. It is only in the mystery of the cross that our suffering, and our fasting and penances, can truly bear fruit. Jesus seeks to meet us there, show us his heart and share his mercy. He shows us that his heart is one that loves and weeps.

Let us prepare to greet the risen Christ on Easter by first showing him that our hearts can also weep — they can be moved by compassion for others and sorrow for our sins.

Just as Jesus loved his friend Lazarus, so, too, he loves each of us.

Just as he wept for the death of Lazarus, so, too, he has wept for us.

Just as he called him out of the tomb — Lazarus, come out! — so, too, he has called us out of our tombs of sin and death.

Just as he had him unbound, so, too, he wishes to release us from these bands so that we can live in the freedom of the children of God.

And just as he raised Lazarus, so, too, he wishes to raise us up to share in his glory.

Deacon Whitney is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. His teaching parish is St. Odilia in Shoreview, and his home parish is Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.

Sunday, April 2
Fifth Sunday of Lent


  • Ez 37:12-14
  • Rom 8:8-11
  • Jn 11:1-45

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Category: Sunday Scriptures