Grace: To have heartfelt knowledge of Jesus who wept over his friend Lazarus, so that I may love him more fervently and follow him more closely.
Text for Prayer: John 11: 1-44
Reflection: This past Sunday, we all heard this rather lengthy reading from John’s Gospel, in which Jesus raises his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. At the end of story, we can look back and better understand Jesus’ actions from the beginning. But if we were to insert ourselves into the various scenes of this passage, we cannot help but be like the disciples, Martha and Mary, who wonder why Jesus doesn’t immediately go to cure Lazarus if he considers him such a good friend or what Jesus means when he says that Lazarus is sleeping. Even after Lazarus dies and Jesus finally does come to Bethany, we might wonder if Mary stays at home because she is pouting and Martha’s initial reaction to Jesus is more filled with sarcasm than anything else: “Thanks for caring, Jesus. My brother wouldn’t have died if you had been here.” And finally, we cannot help but cover our noses outside of the tomb and think, “Why does this man want to open the tomb of a man who has been dead for four days?”
With its detailed plot, this passage shows both Jesus’s humanity and divinity in a way that is not always apparent in the Gospels. As Pope Emeritus Benedict said in a 2008 Sunday Angelus blessing:
Christ’s heart is divine-human: in him God and man meet perfectly, without separation and without confusion. He is the image, or rather, the incarnation of God who is love, mercy, paternal and maternal tenderness, of God who is Life. Therefore, he solemnly declared to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” And he adds, “Do you believe this?” It is a question that certainly rises above us, rises above our capacity to understand, and it asks us to entrust ourselves to him as he entrusted himself to the Father.
What would our reply to Jesus’ question be? This passage in John appears to generate confusion for the people around Jesus and it seems difficult to utter a simple yes to the question Jesus poses to Martha. We are human, but we always called to rise above and make that leap of faith entrusting ourselves to the one whose heart is human, aware of our own weaknesses and shortcomings, but divine, infinite and capable of holding all of us within it.
Questions: Who do I most closely resemble in this passage? Are there things that make me doubt that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? What are they? Am I willing to entrust myself completely to Jesus and to be his friend?