April 6, 2014 click on left end of black bar to play-pause
April 6, 2014 4: 5-42
Gospel: John 11: 1- 45
Father George Smiga
Today’s gospel is the raising of Lazarus. We have heard the story many times. Therefore, we might be tempted to say, “Lazarus? I know that one”, and then turn to thinking of something else. But every great story can become fresh, if you look at it from a new perspective. So here is the question I would like us to consider today: How do we imagine that Lazarus felt about being raised from the dead?
Now remember, Lazarus was not resurrected. Resurrection is a movement from death into a perfect new life. Resurrection is what happened to Jesus on Easter and what we hope will happen to us when Jesus returns on the last day. Lazarus was not, however, resurrected. He was resuscitated. Instead of being called forward into a new and perfect life, Lazarus was called backward into the life that he had just left four days earlier. That life had ended with a serious sickness whose ravages probably still scarred his emaciated body. Lazarus was being called back into a life where there would be further sickness and further pain, a life that would again end with a death that he would have to endure.
So how do we imagine that Lazarus felt about being called back to that life? Could we picture him suddenly waking up in the still, dark tomb and hearing Jesus from outside calling, “Lazarus come out!” Could there be a part of Lazarus that thought, “Come out to what—to work, responsibility, hunger, hurt, misunderstanding, suffering and death?” Could there have been a part of Lazarus that objected, “Come out? I like it here. It’s peaceful, safe, easy.” Could Lazarus have thought even for a moment, “Maybe if I lie very still, he‘ll just go away?”
But Lazarus did come out—out of the tomb, into the light, back to the real life in which we live. And by that action, Lazarus became an example to us of what discipleship entails. Because discipleship involves the courage to leave behind what is peaceful, safe, and easy and answer the call of Christ.
Every day Christ is calling us to “come out” into the real world where our responsibilities lie. Perhaps he is calling us to come out into difficult relationships that are characterized by misunderstanding and competition, or into a difficult job that is not fulfilling or even just. He might be calling us to come out and again take up the burden of grief over a loved one who we have lost or to struggle with a sickness that is threatening our future. He very likely is calling us to come out and use our abilities for the sake of others, to be a mentor to those who want to learn or an advocate for the poor and the oppressed.
Every time that Jesus calls us to “come out,” we can be tempted to choose what is easy, to lie still in our tombs of denial, fear, and inactivity and hope that he just goes away. But Lazarus shows us that a disciple is one who stands up and walks. And that action of Lazarus is not without hope, because when we leave the tomb behind, we discover that we are not alone. As our eyes adjust to the light of the real world in which we live, we come to see that Jesus who has called us is the one who is also standing by our side.