· Vatican City ·

Fifth Sunday of Lent: 17 March

Transformative Power of Friendship

 Transformative Power of Friendship  ING-011
15 March 2024

This week’s Gospel story challenges each of us to reflect on the nature of friendship and its importance in our own spiritual growth. John’s Gospel highlights Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, the transformational power of true friendship, and the depth of Jesus’ compassion and love for each of us.

The Gospel narrative begins with Jesus receiving the news of Lazarus’ illness, but before going to Bethany Jesus waits two days. Many were confused by His delay and began to question His motives, but these actions serve as a powerful reminder of Jesus’ unwavering faith in His Father’s plan. When he arrives in Bethany Jesus is greeted by Martha and Mary, who are grieving the loss of their brother. Jesus is deeply moved by their suffering and weeps with them, “And Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35).

This simple, yet deeply profound moment when Jesus weeps reveals His humanity and the depth of His sympathy for His beloved friends. His tears are a crucial reminder to each of us that He shares in our pain and suffering and offers us consolation and comfort in our darkest moments.

As the story continues Jesus calls Lazarus back to life and gives the audacious command to emerge from the tomb in a dramatic demonstration of His heavenly power. This miracle confirms that Jesus is the conqueror of death and foreshadows His own resurrection and the promise of eternal life for everyone who believes in Him. “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:25-26). The deep affection Jesus has for Lazarus and his sisters serves as a beautiful example of a sincere friendship rooted in boundless love, mercy, and selflessness.

Friendship serves as a central theme that runs throughout all of the Gospels and the story of Lazarus is just one of many examples of this theme in Jesus’ life and ministry. He reaches out with compassion to the oppressed, the outcast, the sinner, and everyone He meets. He shares a meal with tax collectors, cures the sick and crippled, and gives the blind their sight back. Jesus shows the transformative power of genuine friendship in each of these encounters by providing those in need with hope, healing, and reconciliation.

Just as Jesus shared a deep bond with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus so too are we called to cultivate friendships grounded in love, virtue, and a shared commitment to Christ. When we reflect on this Gospel passage and the theme of friendship that permeates Jesus’ entire ministry, may each of us be inspired by the profound love and friendship that Jesus Christ offers us in order that our lives may be transformed. As we continue our Lenten voyage may we endeavor to imitate His love and compassion in our relationships, fostering spiritual growth and mutual support as we journey together towards the Easter promise of eternal life with Christ.

*  Executive Director of Maryland Catholic Conference
Maryland Catholic Conference

By Jenny Kraska*