Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days. Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” John 11:35-40
The raising of Lazarus is one of my favorite Gospel stories. The whole story is packed with significant insights into Jesus, his friends, and the truth of our humanity. Every time I hear it, something new strikes me or inspires me to think about the story in a different way. When I heard it this week there was something about the stench of Lazarus that touched my heart. He clearly needed a shower after he came out of the tomb, but the deeper meaning of the stench if perhaps more important.
You see, our sin leads us to death and death does NOT smell pretty. The nature of us as humans is that fact that we are sinners and with that, there is a stench that follows all of us. Now girls, before you look at the boys and say to yourselves, “That is what I have been smelling for all this time,” let me point out that the stench is in all of us. We are all tied up in the graves of our own sinfulness and nature. As I have said before, Lent is a good time to look at our sin, strive to ask forgiveness, and to turn to the Lord. What sin is causing your stench? What sin is keeping you in the grave?
Here is the great news, the Lord calls us out of our graves just as he yelled to His friend, “Lazarus…Come out!” (John11:43). My friends, Lent is all about Jesus calling us from our graves, calling us from our sinfulness, calling us from our stench to “come out”. Jesus wept for his friend who died, and showing his power and love, raised him from the dead to show all people that he desires the same for us. Pope John II is quoted in his work of the “Theology of the Body” stating, “The heritage of our hearts is deeper than the sinfulness inherited…The words of Christ reactivate that deeper heritage and give it real power in man’s life.” Our Lord’s call for us to come out of our graves is one that is full of power and that will change our lives. Lazarus was never the same once he found new life in the Lord.
Will you rise with Lazarus and ultimately with our Lord this Lent? Will you rise to new life?
Rise from boredom
Rise from mediocrity
Rise from distraction
Rise from anger
Rise from lust
Rise from selfishness
Rise from the same old life
There is no greater time than Holy Week and Easter to prepare to rise with our Lord. Right now we find ourselves in the stench, suffocated in our sinfulness and wondering if that stone is ever going to be rolled away. Have faith my friends! The time is shortly coming when the Lord will call our names and have us rise form our graves into new life.
As we close Lent, RISE with the Lord and out of your graves.
Leave the stench behind…
God Bless You,
Question of the week: What is holding you back from leaving the stench behind and leaving the grave behind?
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.