As lay associates, sisters and brothers of the Ireland England Province of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, we are priviliged to be able to offer you some thoughts and reflections on our Sunday readings.  Many of our lay associates, sisters and brothers have contributed to putting together for the first time, homilies which cover every Sunday of the Liturgical year.  We hope that you will find this service to be of assistance to you in your ministry or just as an opportunity for you to reflect and to pray on the various themes that these reading have to offer us.

preach gospel always



6. Homilies - 5th Sunday of Lent to Easter Sunday  
Each week on a Monday, we will try to post the homily for the following w/e on this Homily Homepage.  (See previous homilies at the bottom of the page)   

5th Sunday of Lent – YEAR A -    by Bro. Harry O’Gara

We learn in today’s Gospel, how much Christ valued the friendship of two sisters and their brother.  We all need the support of friends. Strange, the Christian Churches neglect friendship so much in their preaching, yet Jesus Christ valued it so much he was willing to give his life for his friends. Jesus had many disciples and numerous followers, he had only a few friends, among them two women and their brother from the village of Bethany. Jesus loved Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus.

The raising of Lazarus is sign story that tells us two things: Firstly, Jesus will act on his own or more precisely from above rather than responding to the urging of others or the situation. Hence, he does not go running to Bethany upon the news of his friend’s illness; he stays for two days longer where he is. Secondly, the sign’s primary function of the event was to reveal God. What is about to occur says that Jesus is the glory of God. However, these signs have another purpose: that the son of God be glorified through it. The purpose of what Jesus does for Lazarus is the glory of the Son which in this Gospel refers to the Son’s return to the Father. The means of this return to God would be the Cross.  The reader is told from the outset, the story to follow is not about a family crisis in Bethany so much as the crisis of the world caught up in death and sin, less of putting flesh on bones as it is about giving life to the world caught up in death and sin. Why did Jesus not rush to Bethany when he heard of Lazarus’ illness? Or does the raising of Lazarus mean that Mary and Martha will have the expense of two bereavements and pay for two funerals?

The death and bringing back to life of Lazarus is but a sign: apart from trust in God, the world is a cemetery, but into the world God sends Jesus Christ (‘I am the Resurrection and the life’). One time the crowds wanted bread and Jesus gave them that, but he also offered the bread of life. Here the sisters wanted a brother and Jesus gave them that, but also offers life to the world through his own Death and Resurrection. To see the many clues that point to Jesus own Death and Resurrection one has to but read the story carefully. We are told at the end of this story that the Father will be glorified in the death of his Son. Thomas says let us go also that we may die with him. Jesus is deeply moved and troubled and weeps. The tomb is near Jerusalem. The tomb is a cave with a large stone covering it, the stone is rolled away and Jesus cries with a loud voice, then the grave clothes are removed from the dead one who now lives. Lazarus left the tomb, but the price was Jesus himself said it, one cannot give life unless one dies. Jesus made no exception in his own case. Now the ‘soul is troubled what should I say father save me from this hour. No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.’ There is a willingness to submit to the giving of His life which he has. One of his disciples when Jesus asked where Lazarus had been laid, they said ‘come and see. ‘ This expression ‘come and see’ is earlier in the Gospel an invitation to discipleship. Here the world has turned upon Jesus himself. The hour has come for the son of God to be glorified, perhaps at this realisation Jesus began to weep.

The simple household at Bethany just outside Jerusalem which was the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and which seems to have been the nearest thing to a home that our Lord knew in his earthly ministry is already featured in another Gospel story. It is the news of his friend Lazarus that brings Jesus back to Judea. It was here that the people wanted to stone Jesus. The disciples tried to persuade Jesus of the danger of being arrested by returning to Judea. Thomas emerges as a man of great courage. However, his later reputation as a doubter may have coloured the view of the Apostle in popular thought. Jesus clearly regards the death of Lazarus which followed his illness as provoking a major issue: to restore a man to life on the doorsteps of Jerusalem would to invite a violent reaction from the religious authorities, who would at once to lay hands on someone who was an agent of the devil or a pretender. Jesus sees the fulfilment of his purpose to raise Lazarus would inevitably lead to his own death. Our Lord brings Lazarus back to life, but He interprets this as being of much more significance than restoring a dearly loved friend to his family. Lazarus’ body will die again, but the real Lazarus and with him all who acknowledge the power of Christ will be raised from the dead. Death and sin will never triumph for Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Every time we repent from sin is like a mini Resurrection.

When Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus the people remarked: ‘see how much he loved him’. Even his disciples warned him against returning to Bethany a mere stone’s throw from Jerusalem. There, the established religions threatened by the growing of Jesus movement were seeking a pretext to do away with him. The raising of Lazarus right there in Bethany, under their noses, could be seen as the final provocation. Adolescence is a great period of friendship in our lives. Every teenager finds a friend before he or she finds their first love, and that friendship may endure for a lifetime. If Jesus Christ the son of God treasured the friendship of Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus, it would be foolish of us to think we can do without friends. We pray that God will give us the grace of friendship in our lives. We pray that we will always remain faithful to our friends. We pray for our friends that they will always remain true to God and to us.


1. All homilies for Advent can be accessed by clicking here.

2. Feasts of the Holy Family to the Baptism of Jesus - Year A.

3. Homilies - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary time to 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

4. Homilies - 6th Sunday in Ordinary time to 2nd Sunday of Lent  

5. Homilies - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time to 4th Sunday of Lent.

6. Homilies - 5th Sunday of Lent to Easter Sunday

Click here for HOMILIES - YEAR C