Soul Food for Sundays

A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Reflections 29th March 2020
JN 11: 1 - 45

The Author: Sean Goan
calendar_today Date: March 29, 2020 - 2 minutes read

JN  11: 1 – 45 (

The Raising of Lazarus is the last of the seven signs of Jesus reported in the Gospel of John. It is climatic in that it summarizes everything about his identity as the one sent by the Father to reveal his love. The symbolism of this wonderful drama rests in terms such as Light, Life and Glory, and yet the narrative unfolds with the stench of death filling the nostrils of those who watch and wait. This is the human condition so fallen and so exalted.  We are invited here as Séamus Heaney says to “Walk on air, against our better judgment!”

“Jesus wept”
is the shortest verse in the New Testament:
We don’t expect it in John’s exalted poetic narrative,
steeped in sublime symbolism.
But there it is:
the Word made flesh, brought on by Mary’s tears
and grief at the loss of his friend,
finally breaks down.

Thank you, because
We really needed to know that you know
how it is for us,
that the pain of so many losses and deaths
just tear us apart.
We are not always looking for exalted theology
Sometimes it’s enough to know that you are there,
really there,
with tears in your eyes.

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

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Sean Goan

Coordinator of Spiritan Mission Ireland, Belfast-born Sean is married, with 3 children. He taught for many years in Blackrock College and was chaplain there (2014-2017). He studied Scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago. He published The Sign in 2018.