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Resurrected Life Now

Fr. Ed Nowak, CSP
Fr. Ed Nowak, CSP
March 24, 2023

The gospel readings we have been proclaiming over these last three Sundays of Lent have been building up to this climax of Jesus’ seventh and last sign in John’s gospel. In the action of calling Lazarus to new life, Jesus does three things. He commands the stone to be removed; he calls Lazarus forth; and he commands that Lazarus be unbound.

Jesus invites us to remove the stones of the tombs that keep us from fully engaging in life. There are aspects of ourselves, of our society that we keep in self-made tombs rather than bring into the light and presence of Jesus.  However, when we bury decay and corruption, it does not go away; it only gets worse.  True life occurs when we have the courage to roll away the stone and deal with what we would rather keep buried. Only by rolling away the stones that keep us from hearing Jesus’ call can we experience the glory of God, here and now.

Jesus commands us to come out of our protective tombs. Sometimes it seems easier to stay upset, angry, or depressed or to allow an unjust situation to continue because it is something familiar. Yet Jesus calls Lazarus as he calls us to new life, out of apathy, out of selfishness, out of the fear of risking love.

Jesus commands Lazarus to be unbound. In what ways are we bound by low self-esteem, by peer pressure, by unforgiveness, by addictions, and by fear and prejudices? In what ways do we bind others through force, fear, guilt, manipulation, or oppression? Jesus calls us to unbind one another so that we may experience life in its fullness.

The resurrection experience happens in the context of community and friends.  We are constantly finding ourselves in need of being called to resurrection. One such time for me happened during winter term in my junior year at Penn State. During that time, I became depressed with all that was happening and not happening in my life. One day a friend of mine asked, “Ed, what’s wrong, I never see you smile any more. Why not?”   Her question woke me out of my self-made tomb of depression as I tried to remember the last time I did smile. Why not smile? I did not really have an answer. Upon reflection I knew that smiling and putting my trust in God rested upon my shoulders in a much better way than I was handling life. The difficulties of school and relationships did not vanish, but as I put more of my trust in God, I did not feel as overwhelmed. My friend was Jesus to me, saying, “Lazarus come out!”

Being a disciple of Jesus means being constantly called out of experiences of death to experiences of resurrection. As a community, we are called to roll away stones that block people from hearing Jesus’ call. We are called to be the voice of Jesus calling one another out from self-made tombs. We are called to unbind one another from constraints that inhibit our ability to experience the glory of life in Jesus. As we do these things, we live the resurrected life that God calls us to every day.