Dear Believers in the Christ,
Today’s gospel (John 11: 1-45) reveals new life for Lazarus. However, Mary and Martha are first disappointed that Jesus did not come earlier to help Lazarus. This encounter with death shows them all the miracle and compassion that Jesus holds for us as his followers.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead is an image of what is to come in Jesus’ resurrection. New life will abound for us during this Lenten season if we have the courage to wait, just as Mary and Martha did. New life springs up in places where we least expect if we remain faithful to our lives of prayer and the practice of discipleship. We can grow weary in our waiting; we can think that Jesus will never show up; we can doubt the gifts we have; and we can distrust that God will guide us to use our gifts for the right purpose. In these Lenten days, faith becomes alive when we trust in the goodness of God and wait patiently for Jesus to show us how to use the gifts that He has given us.
This gospel leads us faithfully toward Easter. Our baptism becomes the way Christ brings us back to life. Our second birth in baptism is a rising from the grave of our human concerns. Being born again in baptism raises us up to new life. We shed our old ways and are guided by the gift of the Holy Spirit. New life emerges in ways we do not expect. New life opens the graves of our despair, anger and depression. Our baptism helps us to see that new life means affirming all life and respecting the lives of people who are different from ourselves. Baptism wakes us up to the immigrant longing to have food, shelter and safety. Baptism shows us that new life happens when we educate people, house those who need shelter and feed people who are hungry. Baptism shows us that people matter and that all life has meaning.
Here are some things to help you reflect on the gospel this week:
Lazarus was raised from the tomb. What are the things in your life that need to be changed? How is Jesus offering you new life? What does this gospel say to you about what is dead within your heart and life? How do you view Lazarus and how does he speak to your life?
Jesus told Martha and Mary to take away the stone from Lazarus’ grave. The image of stone in the story leads us to Jesus’ resurrection when the stone will be rolled away without the disciples understanding how it happened. What stone needs to be rolled away from your heart?
Lazarus was freed of his burial bands and the cloth that covered his face. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” What do you need to be free of as you face Jesus this Lent? What about your life and freedom matters to Jesus? How does Jesus want you to live differently? How is Jesus offering you new life?
Blessings in your new freedom in faith,