|IF JESUS WAS WITH US|
The First Reading today (Ezekiel 37:12-14) presents us with the oracle of the prophet Ezekiel declaring that God will open the graves of his people and put His spirit in them and they will live. In the Second Reading (Romans 8:8-11), St. Paul expands the discussion on the Spirit of God that gives us life. Without the Spirit we are lifeless.
The gospel reading (John 11:1-45) presents us with the long drama that accompanied the raising of Lazarus to life. We shall we using the gospel reading as the platform for our reflection while touching on the other reading. We are thus reflecting on the theme: “Raising the Lazarus in us”.
The name Lazarus has its root in Hebrew where it is designated as Eleazar and it means “God’s help” or if you like “divine assistance”. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha and they lived in Bethany; they were friends of Jesus Christ. Words came to Jesus that Lazarus was very ill but he did not go immediately; he took two more days. With God no time is too late; He is the Lord of time. Our Lord took two days to confirm the fact that he is the Lord of both the living and the dead.
By the time our Lord arrived, just as he confirmed to his disciples on the way, Lazarus had died and was in the tomb for four days. Many people had gathered to console Mary and Martha over the death of their brother. When Jesus arrived, the sisters declared at various instances that “IF JESUS HAD BEEN AROUND LAZARUS WOULD NOT HAVE DIED”. This declaration is saturated with a lot of meaning. Here we discover faith in the power of the Lord to stop death and give life. Here we see a confirmation of the fact that God can make a lot of difference in any situation that confronts us.
Another scene in the entire episode that needs to be attended to is where Jesus was deeply moved by the sorrows of the bereaved and upon seeing where Lazarus was buried, he wept along with them. The question is why did Jesus weep since he was after all going to raise Lazarus from the dead? Jesus did not weep because the case was hopeless. Jesus did not weep because he was incapable of raising Lazarus up from the dead, he already told the disciples that he was going to do just that. He wept along with Mary and Martha to show that he feels our situation; anything that affects us touches him personally; he empathizes with us.
On another level, Jesus wept over the death of many souls who would not rise with him because they were disconnected from him during their lives on earth. Hence the tears of Jesus was beyond the death and mourning of Lazarus to the deaths and sorrows caused by sin in the world. The tears of Jesus is for us today an invitation to penitence and conversion.
The raising of the dead Lazarus by our Lord took some notable salutary steps. First our Lord asked them to remove the stone that covered the tomb. At death, there is always a separation; more like the stone that built up a dividing line between Lazarus and the rest of the living. This is actually what sin does; creating a barrier between us and God (Isaiah 59:2). Next he looked up and offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God. In all things we are required to give thanks to God (1 Thess. 5:18).
Then with a loud voice our Lord Jesus Christ said “Lazarus come out!” It is by spoken words that God created and there is power in His words. (Heb.4:12). At that command Lazarus came out but with hands, feet and face wrapped with burial clothe and our Lord said “Unbind him, and let him go!” And it was done. There are still many people who assume that they are living but are still going about with hands, feet and face bound. Many of us are in one bondage or the other. Like Lazarus we need to be untied especially during this season. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to set us free so that we can indeed be free not just thinking that we are free (John 8:36).
Raising the Lazarus in us at this time requires us to seek for God’s help (assistance) at all times; like Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to attend to their ailing brother. Whom or what do you turn to when you have similar challenges? Raising the Lazarus in us is a call to unfailing faith and trust: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Raising the Lazarus in us requires our being ready and willing to remove the stone that is blocking us from having a direct divine encounter. It is worthy to note that if the stone was not removed Lazarus would not have come out. The stone stands for sin and obstacles to our faith, healing and renewal.
As we gradually march towards the celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord let us be aptly concerned with raising that Lazarus in us. Have a blissful Sunday and a wonderful week ahead.
Let Us Pray
Lord you answered Mary and Martha and gave them back their lost hope. We humbly implore you to hear our cry for mercy upon our world sickened by the viral epidemic and heal us. Amen.