Our Lenten Journey continues this week with the gospel story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The images in this gospel passage from Saint John are stark and compelling. If you can, read this account (John 11:1-45) slowly and pay special attention to this raw moment, not only for Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, but for Jesus himself. These are some examples of the tenderness in this story:
- Master, the one you love is ill.
- Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died.
- When Jesus saw Mary weeping he became perturbed and deeply troubled.
- And Jesus wept.
- See how he loved him.
Next week begins Holy Week. It too is a raw journey from life through death to new life. Today’s gospel story of Lazarus is but a foreshadowing of the journey Jesus takes, indeed one we all take.
Death, grief, weeping and graves are not magically dispelled by knowing that our rising again will come. Resurrection occurs only in our dying first, figuratively if not physically. We are the ones Jesus loves. We are the ones in the tomb out of which he commands, “come out.” We are the ones he calls to new life. We are the ones who need to leave the grave behind. We are the ones that need to be unbound and set free.
What is our tomb? What binds us and holds us back from life? The depth of Jesus’ care and love for us is so evident in this story of his dear friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. He so much wants to give us life. Maybe we can ask ourselves, “Am I ready to leave the stench of the tomb, to leave behind what binds me.” Resentment, anger, fear, prejudice, and disappointment can all bind us and keep us in the tomb. As we make our way to Easter, let us hear Jesus’ words, “Lazarus, come out!”