Readings for today: Ezekiel 37: 12-24; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45
But when Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because you have been justified…
The readings that open up this week come very fittingly in life as they always do, and of course I’m beginning to realize that this is not accidental and that it truly is God speaking to me through His word. As we draw closer to Holy Week and witnessing the Passion of Christ, we are told of Jesus final public work before He is arrested and put to death. This week, Jesus does something truly remarkable: He raises His friend Lazarus from the dead.
This week’s readings talk a lot about death, something that we humans know very well. It comes with extra weight as tomorrow (April 3) marks the death anniversary of my grandmother, who passed away a few years ago from cancer. Physical death is always something that has scared me, and as a person who craves stability and planning, death and not knowing when and how is something that I am fearful of. Losing people who I love in such a permanent way is truly heartbreaking.
But beyond physical death, one of the things that I tend to overlook is the death of the spirit. We may feel alright on the outside and everything that we project outwards might be going okay. We might be doing really well in school or at work, have a lot of friends and money, and always have something to do to keep ourselves busy. Despite this worldly success, we might feel empty and lonely on the inside, as if we are craving for me even though it seems like we have it all already. This void and loneliness can only be filled with God’s love.
In the past few years, I have felt myself slowly dying on the inside to the point where even my external, physical self began to suffer. In a way, I am Lazarus, and we are Lazarus. I have fallen asleep in my mediocrity and fell away from the right path to Christ.
Jesus brought Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for 4 days. In the same way, Jesus raises us back to life after days, months, even years of being spiritually dead. It has been a common theme over the past few weeks: no matter how far we have fallen, or how blind we are, or how dead we are, Jesus will always find a way to bring us back.
When we sin, we deviate from the path that God set out for us. Sin is the death that separates us from God. But as we will see during His Passion, Jesus selflessly dies for our sins and sets us free from this enslavement of sin. He provides us with a way back to the Father, because He loves us. He wants us to be with Him.
With our spiritual death, we may feel at a loss or helpless sometimes in thinking that we are too dead to be brought back to life. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and we are the people of the resurrection. He desires to be close to us and for us to live in Him. I encourage you to open your heart to Him, and call out to Him in your time of desperation and when you feel “spiritually sick”. He will never fail you!
As Jesus called out to Lazarus to come out of the tomb, He too calls all of us. We might be bound by our sins and failings the same way Lazarus is bound by the cloth, but Jesus says: “Unbind him, let him go free.” Run to Him, unbind yourself from your wounds through Him, and go free.
On his death anniversary today, Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!