This Lent our parish theme was: “After meeting Jesus what will you do?” In that tiny sentence is a question that could probably take a lifetime to answer. By the fifth Sunday of Lent, however, this question was poking at me in a different way. If you recall, the Gospel that week was the raising of Lazarus. This reading like all of the Gospels has layers and layers of things you could contemplate: Why did Jesus wait? How did the sisters have the nerve to complain at Jesus’ tardiness? Why was “stinking” mentioned? Why was Jesus exasperated at their request? Why did Jesus actually cry at death which he knew he has conquered? And oh, so many more.
In light of our parish theme, though, my focus was taken to the yelling. What yelling, you say? The yelling, Jesus and his yelling at Lazarus. If you go over the reading carefully you will see that the scene is not as angelic, holy, prayerful as some might imagine. Jesus is back by the sisters’ request. A crowd is there and people are weeping. Jesus is annoyed as twice mentioned in the reading. It’s pretty much chaos and Jesus does not even go close to the tomb. He orders others to roll the stone and despite protests of stench he yells at the top of his lungs: “Lazarus come out!” No prayer or reverence for the body/the dead. No tender approach to his dear friend. Instead, there is the yelling! Like a school boy on the field, he yells at his friend to come out here! Don’t you find that weird? I do, it’s not exactly my image of a tender and rescuing God.
Sometimes God speaks loudly enough to get our attention in a definitive way. Lazarus appears and is yet in the burial wraps. The scripture notes that even his face was still covered. What’s going on here? It’s almost like he didn’t want to be disturbed because he finally found some peace! After all, wherever he spent the four days Lazarus knew. at death, that Jesus was dear to him and whenever the time was right he would rise with Him. This is a literal “no worries” situation. But then it happens! That voice yelling his name: “Lazarus come out!” Jesus calling him out! Peace and quiet and a little rest are over, the Master is yelling his name! Of course, the preceding is my personal speculation but that can also lead to a couple questions worth pondering. Have you become secure and cozy in your ever-present burial wraps (sin)? Is even your face covered from God’s gaze?
Has Jesus “called you out”? Are there situations and/or circumstances that are not so good for you or the Kingdom which are easier to stay “dead” in, rather than meeting head on? Are you in the same place/unproductive habits that you have occupied for years? For each and every one of us, regardless of age or status in life Jesus is calling us out, right now this minute!
“Jesus came primarily as a warrior whose final enemy is death. It is easy to domesticate Jesus, presenting him as a kindly moral teacher. But that is not how the Gospels present him. He is a cosmic warrior who has come to do battle with those forces that keep us from being fully alive.” Bishop Robert Barron, Lenten Gospel Reflections, April 2, 2017
Everyone has some “Lazarus” in them. Have you heard the Lord yell your name and secretly said: “Darn, not again!” What is it that keeps you from being “fully alive”. We are in the Holy Space of pre-Pentecost. Jesus rising has called us out! This is not a spectator sport. Now is the time to answer the very first question in this piece. Whatever that answer is, the correct response is NOT “Stay the same.” Get back out there, time’s a wasting!
Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham