The Raising of Lazarus
In today’s gospel Jesus performs His sixth sign and it points to His final and greatest sign His resurrection from the dead. The raising of Lazarus is a visible sign of the new life Jesus offers to all of humanity. He is the light and life of the world. By His light we are led to the fullness of life we each desire; a life in union with God our Father.
Despite the wondrous outcome, there is a sense of abandonment in the gospel that both Martha and Mary expressed with the same words: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died…” We can assume Lazarus experienced this abandonment as he felt death approach. Jesus was close friends with Lazarus and his sisters yet he stayed away. In reality Jesus was spiritually united with them; He knew what was going on and that Lazarus had died. Jesus was closer to them than any of them realized.
The readings this Sunday speak of resuscitation, which means to revive or revitalize. Both of these words come from the Latin word vivere, which means to live. Jesus has come to revive His people and through them to revitalize our fallen world.
We are living through an historic pandemic that stretches across the globe. People are afraid and feel vulnerable made only worse by our forced isolation. Perhaps like Martha and Mary we feel a sense of abandonment as if God has deserted us in our hour of need. Some people wonder if this is a punishment from God. We do not know if this virus is God’s will or God’s permissive will but we do know that God has not abandoned us. Jesus promised to be with us until the end of the age. He is closer to us than we realize and He will bring good out of this terrible pandemic we are experiencing.
Reflecting on all that has happened these past few weeks, I believe God wants to revitalize us and our world in three general ways. First, God wants to revive our faith so that we put God first in our lives. Jesus gave us the first and greatest commandment to love God with our whole being and He added a second commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. All of us strive to live out this second commandment but we often neglect the first and most important commandment. Second, God wants to resuscitate and deepen our belief and desire for the Eucharist. At the end of last year, a Pew survey revealed that 2/3 of Catholics who attend Mass regularly no longer believe in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist and that number increases to ¾ for those under forty. Yet the source and summit of our faith is the Eucharist where Jesus is sacramentally present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the consecrated bread and wine. Through this forced absence from Mass and the Eucharist Jesus wants to rekindle our hunger and desire for the Eucharist. Third, God wants to revitalize our families that are too often pulled in different directions because of over scheduling of many secondary commitments. God wants to bring families back together and strengthen the bond of love in families by having them spend quality time together. It has been wonderful to see families out walking together or to stop into the church and pray together as a family. God wants to revive each of us as well. Perhaps there is a particular sin in our lives that keep us down or we have an addiction or some other destructive habit. Through prayers and quiet time with the Lord we will allow God to bring that healing we need.
None of us knows what the future holds in store for us but no matter what challenges we face we know that God is with us and will never abandon us. Hold fast in faith and trust in the abiding presence of God. Jesus is Emmanuelle, God with us, He is closer to us than we can imagine. We are never alone.
God bless you.