How to Overcome.
“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
Thank you for joining as we continue our journey together, now in Passiontide. We are drawing closer and closer to the days of Jesus’ arrest, trial, cruel murder, and burial. Our hearts (that is our whole selves) consider most somberly our Lenten accomplishment and what is to come.
Have these eight weeks helped us get rid of those hot stoves of sin in our lives?
In the second part of Bitter Lamentations which we sang together yesterday while on retreat, in the Lamentation Hymn, we hear the words: They whipped His shoulders; for my sins they beat Him. Come, all you sinners, Jesus’ blood is readied. As soothing ointment for wretched hearts of sin; Well-spring of true life.
In today’s readings and gospel we see exactly that wellspring of life, true life, cutting through doubt, confusion, worry, sadness, and finally death.
In Ezekiel’s prophesy God reveals that He will not only open people’s graves and have them rise – a physical fact, but simultaneously He will place His spirit in [them] that [they] may live. His work is true life in its factuality as well as in our very being. We are not dead on any level. God brings us to a life that is throughout. The old stoves of sin are cast off and we really live.
St. Paul reminds the Romans that they are: in the spirit. So, we are. We already possess new life as dwellers in the kingdom, we have new life in Christ by our baptism and our witness.
Because of what remains in us of the flesh we have work to do. We need Paul’s reminder that we are in the spirit so we might set to work in getting rid of those stoves of sin, breaking away from the old fleshiness that we cling to.
Let us consider the gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus in part as a whole and in part as a series of vignettes – small stories, glimpses into human fleshy reality where we hold unto doubt, confusion, worry, sadness, and death.
If you will notice, Jesus does not say very much throughout. His statements are short and pointed solely to the revelation of God’s glory that is in Him, and the fact that all this is being done to show Who He really is.
Think of these scenes as the overarching story unfolds: Martha, Mary, and certainly Lazarus too, were worried. They call for Jesus’ help. He does not arrive. Lazarus dies. The apostles are confused by all of this because Jesus is not helping and then He says they are going back to Judea where He is under threat of death. Martha and Mary are sad. Jesus arrives six days too late from our fleshy perspective. The crowds criticize. There is a dialog about these long off last days and the resurrection.
We see in these vignettes people’s doubt, confusion, worry, sadness, and death. All this is not just centered on hot stoves of sin and a failure to see clearly Who Jesus is. It is an exhibit of an entire hot kitchen of sin that is the old flesh.
Then something amazing: “Take away the stone.” Jesus shows Himself God, bringing life from death and the first glimpse of the life He will bring us from the cross. As we wend through this Passiontide let us focus on the new true life we have in Jesus. Jesus’ blood is readied for us.