The Feast of All Saints: Year B

And They Shall Live

The Raising of Lazarus

The Raising of Lazarus (Sebastiano del Piombo)

  • Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
  • Psalm 24
  • Revelation 21:1-6a
  • John 11:32-44

All Saints’ Day (November 1) may also be commemorated on the following Sunday. This feast day differs from all other saints’ days as on this day we remember all the ones among us, seen and unseen, who have been “salt and light” for Jesus in the world, in spite of glaring imperfections and unheralded deeds of mercy.

Our readings today remind us of the power of God’s glory in death as in life. In the Wisdom of Solomon we are assured that “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God” even though it would appear that they have suffered and died. However, this suffering is like a refiner’s fire in which they have been purified and are now at peace.

Psalm 24, a liturgical song that was probably used in a majestic procession of the Ark, exalt the kingship of God. All who have clean hands and pure hearts are assured entrance to God’s sanctuary with blessings.

And of all the biblical stories (besides Jesus’ resurrection) that highlight the power of life over death is the raising of Lazarus. Found only in John’s Gospel, we hear the account of Mary and Martha, sisters who are grieving the illness (and subsequent death) of their beloved brother, Lazarus. We see the human emotions of Jesus and his friends as they weep. Despite the passage of four days, Martha receives reassurance by Jesus that even though Lazarus is dead beyond a doubt – if she believes, she will see “the glory of God.”

As the stone to his tomb is removed, Jesus voices a prayer of thanksgiving. It is not a prayer asking God to act (to raise Lazarus from death), but a prayer of praise that God continues to act to bring life from death.

In the reading from Revelation we see a vision of what this New Life is to be in the coming age. We see God’s work of reconciliation reflected in the renewal of all creation. By the healing love of Christ, all of creation will finally be set free by God’s action. God will dwell with all the saved; suffering, evil, and death will be no more.

It is the Feast of All Saints that we celebrate the past and the promise of New Life to come. “See, I am making all things new.”

For reflection:

  • Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus; so why was he “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved” (John 11:33). Why do you think he wept at the tomb of Lazarus?
  • It is very difficult to know how to be helpful to someone grieving the loss of a loved one, and we often feel inadequate. Remember a time when you have experienced a loss. What were some of the most helpful things that others said or did for you?
  • Refer to the other readings appointed for the Feast of All Saints. How are death and resurrection a part of our life of faith?
  • This dramatic incident of the raising of Lazarus is the climax of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In what way does this text assure us of our own destiny as saints?

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Editor and Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated
This entry was posted in Education, Feast Days, Saints and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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