Whom have you raised from the dead?
Whom have you loved back to life?
These questions initiate a meditation on the Gospel this week. (March 22, Fifth Sunday of Lent). In His ministry on earth Jesus healed many people of varying diseases and infirmities. Perhaps the most dramatic healing of all is when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
“Untie him and let him go.” Lazarus is restored to life. He had been in the tomb four days and new life is breathed into him through the power of love, through the power of love in Jesus Christ.
The presence of Jesus on earth for 33 years and especially His three years of public ministry was a unique moment in all of human history and a privileged opportunity for all of humanity. There was an explosion of love when Jesus was on earth. We are witnesses that the power of God’s love is greater than the power of evil. In His Resurrection from the dead Jesus conquers death, the ultimate symbol of evil. And He conquers death not only in His own life but for all of human life.
We often pray for miracles today for ourselves and for others. We pray for healing from illness, from addiction, from sin. We beg God to intervene but our prayers are not always answered as we wish. Often there is a deeper healing that takes place in our spirit though we may not appreciate it at the time.
Furthermore, we may envy the power Jesus had to heal people and especially to raise them from the dead. We do not have this power. But that does not diminish the power of love. Whom have you raised from the dead? Whom have you loved back to life? This is our Christian responsibility and our Christian challenge.
In the midst of Lent, as we journey toward Holy Week and Easter, we might meditate upon these questions. In professing the name of Jesus Christ we have the power of love. We cannot raise people from the dead but we can love them back to life. This often requires patience and perseverance. Some people are hard to love. But we must never give up trying even if that is a tough love that is warranted. As Christians love is not some vague feeling of good will. As Christians love has content and power when it is done in the name of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who loves in us and through us. For that reason, Christian love is powerful.
There are also many people who just need some act of kindness and thoughtfulness. A phone call or a visit can raise someone out of despair or depression. A word of encouragement or affirmation can love someone back to life. It is often so simple. We need but look beyond our little world or idle preoccupations to see where our love may bring healing and hope.
“Untie him and let him go.” How simple and yet how powerful.
Whom will you raise from the dead? Whom will you love back to life?
Rev. James M. McNamara