The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him. (John 11:3-45)
Life. Vitality. Vigor. In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ mission is to bring life. At the beginning of the Gospel, John says that it is the Word of God through whom all things are made and without the Word nothing has life. Flowing from God’s love, the Word becomes Incarnate, so that “all who believe might have eternal life.” When Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd, he reveals his divine purpose, “I have come that all might have life and have it more abundantly.” At the Last Supper, he tells Thomas, “I am the way, the Truth and the Life.” This weekend, in the face of the death of his friend Lazarus, Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.” Jesus lives to give us life, now and forever with Him.
Yet, there are many aspects of our existence which seem dead and lifeless. Like Lazarus, we are bound head to toe with our bad habits, sins and addictions. Moreover, the daily headlines paint a grim picture of world events. Just as the crowd wonders why Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus when he was sick, we might ask why God does not seem to intervene in the face of illness, suffering and death. Today we see Jesus’ response. He weeps in compassion, and then he restores in power. Raising Lazarus from the grave is a promise that Christ has conquered death itself and that he wants to share his life with us, even in this moment.
One practical way that we might experience the Resurrection in our daily lives is through a regular morning prayer. This past Tuesday we celebrated the feast of St. Patrick (the Great!). Tradition has given us a beautiful morning offering called the Breastplate of St. Patrick. This prayer has inspired beautiful music, and it opens our mind and hearts to the energy and vitality of Christ in our lives. As we arise each morning, we call the strength and vigor of Christ to empower us as we go through the day. I invite you to join me in this Morning Prayer (which I have abridged for your convenience).
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity. Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort me and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend or stranger. I arise…Amen.
~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.