Lazarus, Come Out!

In the gospel from St. John this week, we have another beautiful story of the power of Christ to overcome even death! Jesus arrives at Bethany to find his dear friends, Martha and Mary mourning the death of their brother. Jesus intends to use this crisis to build the faith of those who stand weeping. Jesus, himself, is overcome with compassion at the outpouring of tears from those gathered, and he also weeps.

After meeting with Mary and Martha and those gathered, Jesus moves into action. As we look at the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, some of us may feel like Lazarus in the tomb. We may be asking ourselves if the Holy Spirit is truly present in our hearts and our lives. We may not be in touch with the subtle movements of the Spirit in our hearts. I would like to use Jesus’ words and actions in this beautiful gospel passage to encourage each of us to open ourselves more fully to the Spirit’s presence in our hearts.

  1. “Take away the stone!” Jesus directs those present to take away the stone from the tomb where Lazarus is buried. Some of us may feel that the Spirit is lying dormant in our hearts, much like Lazarus in the tomb. What blocks our receptivity to the Spirit in our lives?

ACT: Pray that God would remove any obstacles that may be blocking our receptivity to the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Trust that God always hears and answers our prayers.

  1. “Thank you, Father.” Jesus thanks the Father for always hearing his prayers and for the miracle that is about to unfold. It is so important that we have grateful hearts. God is at work in each of us minute by minute. The more we are grateful for even the smallest inspirations of the Holy Spirit, the more God will continue to bless us with those inspirations. The Spirit is always moving, but we may not always be aware of the Spirit’s movements.

ACT: Offer a prayer of thanks at the end of each day for all that God has done in your heart that day.   We must remember to be grateful for everything that God sends, since he will use every situation to bring about good if we are open to it.

  1. “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus calls Lazarus to come out of the tomb after he has raised him from the dead. We might think of this “calling forth” of Lazarus like the Holy Spirit lying dormant in our hearts. The Spirit is at work in us at every moment of the day, yet sometimes we are unaware of the action of the Spirit in our lives. We can call forth the Spirit to bring wisdom and guidance to every life circumstance.

ACT: The next time you have a decision to make, ask God to send the Holy Spirit into your heart to guide you. Listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and follow as the Spirit leads. It is also good to ask the Spirit to come to us when we are filled with worry, fear or anxiety about anything in this life.

  1. “Untie him and let him go!” God wants to have free reign to guide us through the Spirit working in our lives. Many of us make the mistake of thinking that we can control anything in our lives apart from God. This act of “letting go” is the first piece of the famous saying “Let go and let God.” Jesus reminds us that, apart from him, we can do nothing.

ACT: Take a few moments each day to pray as Father Steven has taught us. We place our hands over our heart and call upon the Holy Spirit to come. It is in this act of beautiful humility that the Spirit will come into our hearts and gently work in us.

The story of the raising of Lazarus offers a beautiful image of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. As we continue on our journey of discipleship, God is calling us to deeper union with him through the working of the Holy Spirit. May these final weeks of Lent prepare our hearts for the gift of New Life through the resurrection of Jesus!

In the peace of Christ,
Deacon Tim Hennessey

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