How often do we blame God for not coming through when we needed something? The Gospel today has Mary stating an opinion that could be uttered by any of us: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Kneeling at his feet, she weeps and he is deeply moved and also weeps. The Miracle Man did not live up to people’s expectations…yet. The true miracle is about to unfold but those gathered grieving the death of their loved one are overwhelmed. Martha had said earlier with great hope and faith that God will give Christ whatever he asks. She foreshadows the resurrection of Lazarus.
Lord, if you had…..not been asleep at the wheel, distracted by another million catastrophes, been paying attention, intervened earlier/later, loved me more, or whatever it is that runs through our minds when we are faced with the unspeakable spill out of our mouths in times of trouble. Some of the crowd also questioned why Jesus had not been able to keep his friend from dying. When our happy ending does not unfold, we feel the weight of the devastation rather than trust that somehow some good will come of it.
When life does not turn out as we believe it should, we can entomb ourselves and crawl into a dark space. We can decide that it is more comfortable in the tomb than in the bright light of day. We can stay there, bound up with anger, bitterness, and resentment until a piece of us has also died. The cave has become our haven, our escape from reality but it is not where we belong as children of the Light.
The Lazarus reading has come up in some group discussions lately. I keep thinking about the people outside the tomb, peering into the smelly, dark hole holding their grief, vulnerability, and breath. Were they hanging on to hope that Jesus might indeed be able to do this miracle? Did they back away in disgust at what came out of the tomb before Lazarus emerged? What emotions came over them when Lazarus stumbled through the entrance? Did they rush to untie him when Jesus commanded them, happy to further free their loved one from his bondage? Was the reunion joyful?
I imagine Lazarus in his cocoon, hearing his friend and Saviour call him forth. Come out! What did he think at that point? Could he hear his sisters too? Was he able to listen to the crowd wailing? Did he prefer to stay in the dark or did he rise immediately upon being called, longing for the Light again? What determination did it require of him to take those strides back towards wholeness and life? What humility it showed as he took baby steps towards the entrance of the world that he once knew but that would now be forever changed for him and those he loved!
We all must choose life each day to come out of the tombs that imprison us, and to walk as children of the Light. Two years ago I could have stopped living; I could have crawled into the tomb of fear and sorrow but I choose to live each day until I die. On occasion I still need Christ to call me out of the darkness and friends to help unbind me from those fears that keep me from being free. The first Holy Week after being diagnosed I cried during the liturgies which took on new meaning to me, as they did after my sister died. As I enter my third Easter season in the coming weeks, I feel much freedom about what will come. I have worked hard to get to this place and I have been carried by the many prayers that surround me. God has been abundantly gracious to me. I learned many years ago that life was a great gift. We can whine, Lord if only you had….or we can simply say, Lord, I thank you for this day where your mercies are new. Here am I to do your will. We each make a choice. Lazarus made one that day to leave the darkness. Jesus awaited him as he does each of us. Jesus weeps when we are in the tomb but rejoices when we come out.
What are you blaming the Lord for that keeps you entombed?
Who can you help to unbind and set free?
Life-Restorer, thank you for setting me free from the darkness of my life and calling me into the Light. Bless my loved ones who help unbind me. Your love and tears for me astound me. Help me to be the fully-alive person you desire me to be. Amen.