The Gospel today narrates how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Like all the Gospel reading the past Sundays, there are a lot of things to reflect on. However, since the First and Second readings pertain to the resurrection, we will take that as the topic today.
Jesus received news about the condition of Lazarus from messengers sent by Martha and Mary. Jesus is close to the siblings as we see in other Gospel accounts, and also with what Martha and Mary tells Jesus: he whom you love is ill. Yet, despite being told Lazarus is ill, Jesus said This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Jesus even stayed two more days before going to Lazarus. When he arrived, Martha met him outside the town and said Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him. Martha seemed to blame Jesus for the death of her brother. To which Jesus tells her Your brother will rise again. Martha thought Jesus was referring to the resurrection of the dead at the last day. But Jesus reveals himself to her I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will never die.
With this, Jesus reveals that the resurrection is not only an event. It is a Person and Jesus IS the Resurrection. We have life not because Jesus raises us from the dead, but because we live IN Jesus. This is what true life means: to live in Jesus, to have the life of Jesus in us. This is one where we empty ourselves to Jesus, where we submit to Jesus, where we trust Jesus. It is one where he is Lord!
This life in Jesus is described by St Paul in the Second Reading as he describes this life in Jesus as one where the Spirit of God dwells in us. This is a life where we are not controlled by our sinful desires, but one that obeys the Spirit of God. This life in Jesus is one where the body dies to sin and lives in the Spirit.
I live in sin when I reject God and tell him I do not want to live in union with him, that I do not want to be his child. This happens when I insist on doing things my way, when we act my beliefs based on what I think and not on what Jesus reveals as the truth. In short, when my only desire is to satisfy myself and not the glory of God. When I live this life, I live in the flesh and St Paul says, Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But there is always hope to have new life. This new life is not achieved on our own efforts. It is achieved through God’s power as Ezekiel prophesied in the First Reading. God will raise the dead for one purpose: you shall know that I am the Lord. This is our destiny as children of God: to know him as Lord, to know God as he is. This is the life in the Spirit. It is one that leads us to a deeper knowledge of God so we can give glory to him, it is one that obeys and submits to him in love.
So who can receive this gift of new life? This gift of new life is available to anyone who asks. The Responsorial Psalm shows us the prayer of a person who is troubled by his sins. He does not enumerate his sins. Instead, he cries to God in the depths of his being and begs God to hear. He admits his guilt and is confident God will forgive. When we repent and turn back to God, God forgives our sins. The Psalm ends with the psalmist waiting for the Lord, watching intently for God to come to his life. He confidently says with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
God is the only One who cleanses us of our sins. The death of Jesus proves God does this. This death also takes away our sins and the sin of the world. There is always hope. There is always forgiveness when we turn back to God. There is healing when we come to Jesus.
If you are tired of living in guilt for something you have done before, if you are ashamed of what you did before, if you think God does not care and will not forgive you, or that you deserve to be punished for what you did or are doing, if you think God cannot love you for who you are, let me tell you the good news. This is not God’s plan for you. God loves you. Jesus loves you. Jesus takes away your guilt by healing you and giving you peace. He wants to give you a new life. He wants to set you free. He calls you to him not to punish you. He waits to embrace you, to take you in his arms, so you can hear his heart that calls your name. A heart that calls you to him. A heart that loves you. A heart that gives you power to rise from where you are, to new life.
If you want this life, say this prayer: Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed by my situation, by my condition. There is no one who can help me, except you. I run to you, perhaps because I am desperate. But I know, you will take me as I am, with my faults, with my sins. Show me yourself so I can know you as my Lord. Lead me to see the Father’s plan for me. I want you to show me you love me. Let me live a life in the Spirit, one that pleases the Father, one that fulfills what the Father has planned for me. I pray in your mighty name with confidence: Jesus Christ my Lord.