Hearing this reading can raise an uncomfortable question in our minds.
That is: if Jesus was willing to do this for Lazarus and others
we hear about in the Gospels, why doesn’t he do it for us?
Someone we love gets sick, and not only does our loved one
go through so many trials, so does everyone around them.
I could paint a picture, but we all know how awful this is.
And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about,
your turn to be where Martha and Mary were –
to say the same things they said,
to feel their bone-weariness and to shed their tears?
That moment eventually comes for each of us.
So you or I might easily ask with Martha:
Lord, why didn’t you come sooner?
The hard truth is, you and I are not promised
to be saved FROM suffering.
If only, if only! But that’s not the deal.
As we approach Holy Week and Good Friday,
instead of avoiding this topic, let’s you and I face it squarely.
The Cross puts suffering right in the center.
No, let me say that differently.
Suffering was already at the center of human experience.
What Christ does is put God and his salvation right there,
in the middle of human pain.
Jesus puts himself there. On the Cross, of course!
So, yes: Jesus could have spared Lazarus and Mary and Martha.
He could spare each of us. (Shrug.)
This calls to mind one of the great temptations today;
and we see it in Europe, and in Canada, and it’s spreading in our country:
The idea that you and I should just die rather than suffer.
So we’re seeing spreading efforts
to make it legal to give people a drug to kill them.
I’m not minimizing pain and suffering.
But what you and I must say clearly is that it is false – false! –
to claim that human life is made worthless by suffering.
We saw something of that during Covid. We isolated from one another.
Many of our elderly were cut off from all personal contact
with friends and loved ones. And what happened?
We were trying to keep them “safe” – that’s laudable.
But it was damaging!
People – not just the elderly, but at all ages –
were depressed, disoriented, overcome with sadness.
Here again, we learn:
life isn’t better when all danger and suffering are kept at bay.
I realize this could sound callous but:
Sometimes the trials and suffering you and I experience –
like Martha, like Mary, like Lazarus –
aren’t something to be saved from –
because they are what ends up saving us!
And that may be one reason why Jesus didn’t come and rescue Lazarus,
and why he doesn’t simply spare us from the same path.
He isn’t just saving you and me for more of this life –
but for eternal life.
As you and I enter the home stretch of Lent, and approach Holy Week,
now is a great time to ask ourselves:
do I really want to hang on to this life –
which will slip away no matter what, or:
Will I walk with Jesus the road of dying to self,
dying to this world, that I may share in his Resurrection?