Who understands what it feels like to be dead? The question may sound weird because the fact of dying is not what many people like to discuss; everyone wants to keep up with life no matter how hard it appears. The bitter truth is that we are heading towards the direction of death. However, St. Paul has this to say, “for we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1).
As we are getting closer to the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Readings are pointing us to the events that reflect the mission of the Christ on earth. Last Sunday, he opened the eyes of a man born blind (John 9), and the liturgy of the word of this Sunday tells us about God’s gift of life after death.
In the First Reading (Ezekiel 37:12-14), the oracle of the prophet tells us about God’s promise that He will open the graves of His people, have them rise from the dead, and put His Spirit in them so that they may live. In the Second Reading (Romans 8:8-11), the apostle Paul tells us that about the Spirit of Christ that brings our dead body into life.
The Gospel Reading (John 11:1-45) tells us how our Lord Jesus Christ raised his friend Lazarus to life after four days in the tomb. In the long narrative, we discover that our Lord delayed coming to see Lazarus for two days when he heard that he was sick. When he eventually showed up, Lazarus had died. Meeting up with the Lord, Martha, and Mary at different times said, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”
At some seasons of your life, you may have wished that God showed up earlier. It could be during the time of sickness, bereavement, unemployment, marriage, or relationship problems. With the current coronavirus pandemic, there is a wide outcry for divine intervention and immediate remedying of the situation. Like Martha and Mary, one could hear the same desperation from Christians around the world for God to come down quickly and clear the mess. One thing Martha and Mary and couldn’t realize was that there is no time that the Lord is absent. David refers to God as the ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). Admittedly, the Lord is always with us; He is Emmanuel.
When Martha and Mary said, “Lord, if you had been here, Lazarus would not have died,” they were implying that the Lord shouldn’t have delayed in coming when he heard about the sickness of Lazarus. God’s delay is not a denial, and God’s time is different from ours; it is the best. Our Lord Jesus Christ showed up at a time when all hope was lost. If he had come when Lazarus was sick, it wouldn’t have been different from other miracles of healing he performed.
God Knows and Feels your Pain
The Gospel narrative tells us that when Jesus saw the tears of Mary and the mournful disposition of the people around, he wept. Why did Jesus weep, he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead anyway? Jesus wept to show us that he knows and feels our pains. The Psalmist says that God is near to the broken-hearted and saves those that are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
Moving Forward: You shall Live Again
There are various ways we can understand death beyond the usual cessation of breath. Death could be spiritual, moral, or mental. The image of the dry bone in the Prophecy of Ezekiel shows the spiritual, moral, and mental retardations in our lives that needed the reviving power of God’s Spirit.
Our world today needs extensive spiritual and moral revival and awakening. There are lots of dead situations and conditions around us. There are dead faith, hope, and prayer lives; there are dead relationships; there are dead moral lives, and there are dead or stagnant projects and doors of progress. We need to connect our lives to the revival of the dry bones in the First Reading and the raising of Lazarus in the Gospel Reading so that we can live again.
God is not only available, but he is also able to turn things around for us in this dreadful season when we seem to be mortified by a tiny but destructive virus with a crown. Just like the stone that was covering the tomb was moved to open the grave, we need to move all the barriers in our lives especially sin to open our hearts and to give access to the Lord for our revival.
Furthermore, we need to jump out like Lazarus when we hear the Lord calling us to come out. We need to Jump out to enable us to enjoy the next spiritual facility, which is liberation, just as our Lord instructed those who rolled out the tomb to untie Lazarus and to let him go (John 11:44).
As we continue to march and endure the pains of the season, may we remain confident and humble to recognize that the Lord is closer to us now than ever and that in due time he will raise us if we do not give up (1 Peter 5:6).
Have a blissful Sunday and a glorious week ahead.
God bless you.