It’s taken me all these years of my priestly ministry (39 years on the 5th!) to recognize this, but in John’s Gospel, women really do play a powerful role. A few Sundays ago, Jesus specifically and deliberately revealed himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman. Nowhere else does He do that. Then in Sunday’s Gospel, Martha is moved to say: “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” In the other three Gospels, that profession of faith is reserved to Peter. And how ironic it is that Martha, the busybody at home, is the one to say those words. Maybe she was listening while Jesus talked to her sister, Mary. That’s one significant point.
The other set of words from this Gospel of the raising of Lazarus that move me every single year are these: “Untie him and let him go free.”
Face it: all of us are tied up in one way or another. Some of us have self-imposed shackles, though we may be unaware of them or deny their existence: addiction, self-doubt, ignorance, etc. We have the capacity to free ourselves – with God’s help – but choose instead to stay tied up in knots because we are inhibited by fear, laziness, lack of faith or hope, or the insistence that we should do it our way.
Some of us have shackles that are imposed by others or circumstances, including abuse, neglect, accident or disability. We can also be freed of these, but those same powerful forces of fear, inertia, skepticism or despair and pride tie us down.
Whatever the source of our shackles, Jesus wants us to be free; but He needs our cooperation. He bids us to come out of our tombs, to be unbound and set free; but sometimes we choose to stay put. Sometimes, tragically, we choose to stay dead. The trouble is, when you dwell in the tomb long enough you can get used to the stench. It only becomes evident when the stone is rolled away and the fresh air enters in.
Reach out for new life and freedom today!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.