RCL Year B, All Saints
Wisdom 3:1-9, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6a, Saint John 11:32-44
When the Episcopal Church adopted the Revised Common Lectionary as its Lectionary in 2006, we were given today’s Gospel for the Feast of All Saints in Year B. The previous Lectionary offered the Beatitudes in Matthew and Luke as the only Gospels for All Saints. Today’s Gospel, the Raising of Lazarus, is something of a puzzle when placed alongside the Beatitudes, both versions, on All Saints.
This is the puzzle. The Beatitudes describe as no other Gospel does the qualities of the saints. The saints are blessed; they are poor in spirit; they mourn; they are meek; they hunger and thirst for righteousness; they are merciful; they are pure in heart; they are peacemakers; and they are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. But none of these qualities attaches to Lazarus as we read about him in John. Jesus loves Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, but we know almost nothing about him.
But we know one very important thing about him. Jesus raises him from the dead, and that fact unites him with all the saints and with all the faithful departed—all of whom will be raised by Jesus on the last day.
The teaching of the Church this Gospel illustrates is the Communion of Saints, mentioned specifically in the Apostles’ Creed, the creed of our Baptism as Christians. “The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.” As Jesus raised Lazarus, so will he raise the whole family of God.
Being raised in Christ is the great mystery of the whole family of God. What is important about Lazarus is not what makes him unique. What is important about you is not what makes you unique. What is important about me is not what makes me unique. What is important about us all is that we are Christ’s, Christ’s own for ever.
BCP, page 862.