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My favorite Bible story growing up would change from time to time. Daniel in the lion’s den, the story of Joseph, even Job and his troubles were from time to time my favorite story. But for a long, long time now, it is the story of the raising of Lazarus that has held my heart enthralled and my mind intrigued. I recently received a reflection on that story and I believe it is worth sharing. This is from Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflections this year:
“The story of Lazarus is rich in meaning for us, especially during Lent. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus “groaned in spirit.” Jesus’ trouble here is the result of his identification with sinful humanity. He goes all the way to the bottom of it, letting its truth affect him. Jesus does not just love us abstractly or from a distance. He comes close to us.
“More to the point, this groaning of Jesus signals the pain that God feels at our imprisonment. If his glory is our being fully alive, then his agony is tied to our sin. How salvific it can be to listen to this groaning of the Lord at our own lack of life.
“In the same vein, Jesus weeps for his friend. There is something heartbreaking about this for it is the only time in the Scripture that Jesus is described as weeping. Whatever form death takes within us – physical, psychological, spiritual – it is something deeply troubling to God.
“One detail is particularly moving: Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” Sin alienates us from our God, making us strangers to him. Just as in the book of Genesis, God looked for Adam and Eve, who were hiding from him, so here God incarnate doesn’t know where his friend Lazarus is.
“Then the Lord comes to the tomb. We hear that it was a cave with a stone laid across it. When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them. When we feel spiritually dead, we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety and egotism and fear. But there is a power, a divine power, sent into this world whose very purpose is to break through all such stones. “Lazarus, come out!” Are there any words more beautiful and stirring in the whole New Testament? From whatever grave we are lying in, Jesus calls us out.
“And the dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.” Lazarus comes out with all of the signs of death still clinging to him. So Jesus says “Untie him and let him go.” Here we see it: Whatever limits, binds, controls, orders, dominates us – these are the enemies of God.”
PRAYER: Father, it is good to know that what troubles us causes You distress, too, and that You call us out of the graves in which we lay! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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