This time is a time of fear for many. At present we, along with the rest of the world, hold fears around the pandemic Coronavirus Covid-19. We fear contracting the virus. We fear losing our jobs. We fear not being able to obtain essential items. We fear running out of money. We fear being isolated. We fear not being able to be spiritually nourished in the way that we have become accustomed to through the celebration of the eucharist and the other sacraments. These fears are understandable, particularly as no one knows how long all of this will go on for. Without seeking to diminish in any way what anyone might be feeling right now I believe through this Sunday’s Gospel we are invited to look towards Jesus who shows that he has authority over death and the grave. This Gospel does all this and at the same time allows for expressions of anger and grief along the way and makes it clear that to do that is not contrary to faith. My hope is that all this might offer us some comfort at this difficult time.
This Sunday’s Gospel and First Reading are closely linked today. In the First Reading the prophet Ezekiel speaks how the Lord can recreate his people out of death. In this passage we hear the words “you shall know that I am the Lord.” The prophet is telling the people that their country, which was in ruins at that time, will be restored. This eventually came to pass. The other promise the prophet makes to the people is that their lives will be restored from shame and brokenness.
As we wake up to more bad news each day, we realise that we cannot face this on our own but with God we can. The restoration that Ezekiel prophesied in the first Reading is repeated in our Gospel today. Jesus calls to Lazarus to “come out.” These words are followed by Jesus’ command to the people “unbind him and let him go free.” This is what I believe Jesus is saying to us when we are bound by fear. If we feel bound, we are invited to go to him who in the words of Ezekiel, “will put a new spirit in us.”
Despite knowing that going to Lazarus would cost him his life, Jesus went to him just the same. This tells us of the love that God has for every one of us. When Martha initially approached Jesus, she believed that he is the Christ and she believed in the resurrection of the dead. In seeking his help, she came to understand that he is the resurrection and the life. Like Martha, we are encouraged to seek Jesus’ help for both ourselves and others. Like Lazarus, Jesus wants to raise us up and restore us once more.