A week has passed since this gospel reading, and yet – the Word continues to speak to me. I was blessed to have a “heads-up” from God to pay attention to this passage. God inspired Jane, who asked me to share my thoughts on this passage after I attended mass that day.
For this reflection, I will meditate on the people mentioned in the passage, how they were moved to action as a result of the death and resurrection of Lazarus and what we can learn from them.
[This post is Part One of the Lazarus series.]
“But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” [Luke 11:4]. See how sure Jesus is, that everything will turn out for good. It is for the glory of God. If you’re in a tough spot right now, with no relief or solution in sight, trust in God that there is a greater purpose for what you are going through right now. This illness, this difficult situation, this in-between, does not lead to death. Doesn’t sin lead to death? It does. But take courage and turn away from sin – for there is hope, mercy and new life in Jesus!
Jesus remained where he was for 2 more days before informing the disciples that they will travelling back to Judea. Why wait 2 days? Surely, if you heard that the death of a close friend was imminent, you would rush down straightaway. But God’s ways are not our ways (see Isaiah 55:8). So what did Jesus do in the 2 days of waiting? The bible doesn’t mention what He did. So I prayed and reflected about this. Why did you wait 2 days, Lord?
Look at the end of John 10: Again the Jews sought to arrest him, but he escaped and “went away” across the Jordan to where John had been baptising at first. Whenever Jesus “went away” is mentioned in the bible, it suggests that Jesus withdrew to pray, seeking solitude and silence as we’ve seen him do so after miracles (Mark 1:35), in times of grief (Matthew 14:13), before choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12–13), in His distress in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39–44). So perhaps the 2 days were spent in prayer. Jesus knew WHO needed his help (Lazarus), WHERE his friend was and WHAT had happened. He knew that Lazarus’ death wasn’t the end and HOW he will be raised to life. He knew WHY (“that they may believe” Luke 11:42) so the only unanswered question is: WHEN?
And so he prayed, seeking instruction from God and waiting in obedience. “Then after this, Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” [Luke 11:7] Before calling Lazarus out, ‘Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” [Luke 11:41-42].
How often do we rush into things, without asking for God’s guidance? It is tough, but I am slowly learning to discern the difference between doing what I want, and doing what God wills for me. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t help people immediately, but that we should also keep praying and discerning on what God is calling us to do for others.
Jesus is moved to action:
1. By compassion for others
– the two blind men who cried “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” in Luke 18:38
– the woman suffering from bleeding touched his cloak in Matthew 9:20
– the crowds who didn’t have enough to eat in Matthew 14:16
2. By petitions
– from Mary at the wedding in Cana in John 2:3
– for Jairus’ daughter who had died in Matthew 9:18
– from the Centurion for his servant in Luke 7:10
3. By the faith of a community
– healing the paralysed man who was brought to Jesus by people who believed and went to great lengths to lower him through the roof, in Mark 2:4
4. In obedience to God’s will
– Jesus ‘fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” in Matthew 26:39
– Jesus humbled himself, by becoming obedient in death, as mentioned in Philippians 2:8
What are we moved to action by? Do we act according to our fears, pride, jealousy? Do we follow the distractions of desolation or the inspirations of the Holy Spirit?
May we be moved to action by compassion and petitions for others, by our faith and the faith of the community, in obedience to God the Father.
[To be continued….]