Next Sunday, Jesus’s ministry reaches its earthly climax with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem marking the beginning of Holy Week. Today’s Gospel, as recorded by St. John, provides an impetus for the fervor of the crowd as Jesus performs arguably his greatest sign in raising Lazarus from the dead. This Gospel stands out as a beautiful demonstration of the reality of Jesus Christ being both God and man.
Jesus comes to Bethany at the request of his friends. Martha and Mary have sent Him word that Lazarus their brother is gravely ill. Jesus comes to Bethany, though later than Martha and Mary had hoped for, and finds that Lazarus is dead, in fact he has been buried for four days. At the reality of Lazarus’s death and the grief or Martha and Mary, John records for us that Jesus weeps. This is a detail that we cannot simply pass over. It is important for us to see that Jesus truly did assume our human nature and that, like us, he was affected by the tragedies and sorrows of life.
Here we see how wondrously our shared human nature is joined in Jesus to the divinity of His person. Jesus comes to Lazarus’s tomb and, over protestations, asks that the stone be rolled away. In what must have been an astonishing moment, Jesus then calls Lazarus forth from the darkness of the tomb and back to life, showing that He truly is the Lord of life.
In these days late Lenten days, as we prepare to enter into Passiontide, we need to remember that Jesus Christ both shares in our human trials and at the same time offers us the grace to be lifted above them. Jesus is no stranger to frustration, disappointment, uncertainty, and even fear. He truly is one with us in all things but sin. At the same time, He is the God who is calling us out of darkness and beyond our fears into light and hope.
As we face the on-going challenges and uncertainty of this pandemic, we wonder when is it going to end, how might things change, and/ or what am I going to lose? Remember Jesus’s words when Lazarus come forth from tomb, wrapped in burials cloths: untie him and let him go. Jesus makes this same command regarding our fears, uncertainty, and doubts, but we also have to be willing to let them go.
Easter is set. There is no moving it. There is no stopping the coming of the feast. We may not be able to celebrate these coming days as we would like but our present challenges do not change the reality of Holy Week and Easter, that Christ has died, risen, and will come again. In fact, He is coming to us each day, calling us out of the tombs of doubt, uncertainty, fear, and our sinfulness. He is calling each of us by name; do not let His call go unanswered.
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various leadership roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.