The story of Lazarus’ resurrection is surprising. On the one hand, Jesus is never presented to us so human, fragile and intimate as in this moment when one of his best friends dies. On the other, we are never so directly invited to believe in his saving power: «I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live… Do you believe this?».
Jesus doesn’t hide his tenderness toward these three siblings of Bethany who certainly welcome him in their house each time he comes to Jerusalem. One day Lazarus falls sick, and his sisters send a message to Jesus: Our brother «the one you love» is sick. When Jesus gets to the village, Lazarus is already 4 days buried. Now no one can bring life back to him.
The family is torn apart. When Jesus gets there, Mary breaks down crying. No one can console her. Seeing the sobbing of his friend, Jesus can’t hold back and he too begins to cry. His soul is broken when he feels everyone’s powerlessness in the face of death. Who can console us?
Within us is an insatiable desire for life. We go through days and years struggling to live. We hold onto science and above all medicine to prolong this biological life, but without fail a final sickness befalls us that no one can cure.
It would never be right for us to hold onto this life forever. It would be a horrible world of decrepit people, full of old people, each day with less space for young people, a world in which life doesn’t get renewed. What we yearn for is a different life, one without pain or old age, without hunger or wars, a life fully happy for everyone.
Today we live in a society that has been described by a sociologist from Poland –Zygmunt Bauman– as «a society of uncertainty». The human being has never had so much power to advance toward a happier life. And yet, maybe never have we felt so powerless in the face of an uncertain and threatening future. What can we hope for?
As human beings of all ages, we too live surrounded by darkness. What is life? What is death? How to live? How to die? Before raising Lazarus, Jesus says these words to Martha, that are a decisive challenge to all his followers: «I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live… Do you believe this?».
In spite of doubts and obscurity, we Christians believe in Jesus, Lord of life and of death. Only in him do we seek light and strength to struggle for life and confront death. Only in him do we find a hope of life beyond this life.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf