Sunday, April 6, 2014

Raising Lazarus

Sts. Mary & Martha, by Ellen Francis
In the Catholic liturgy, today's Gospel is John 11:1-45, the death and raising of Lazarus of Bethany.
Two of the lines [42-43]:
"I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me. When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!'"

Over the years, I have generally heard that Jesus' friends in Bethany were wealthy. Yet the name Bethany itself means "house of misery/poverty." It was also reputed to be one of the places where lepers were sent... perhaps a "poor house." Why is this important? It would better explain two things: first, why Jesus ~ the friend of the poor, downtrodden, outcast ~ would spend significant time there; second, why Martha would be distressed by Mary's choice to sit at Jesus' feet rather than work. Martha knew there were people who needed their help.

Beyond all this basic re-mything information lies the message this has for my life. In practicing Lent this year, I've reflected on what has 'died' in my life, what is being 'reborn' and what is 'resurrecting'. In general, those are different things. Letting go of my past, with its mistakes, fears, missteps, losses, has been one of the most difficult 'deaths' I continue to work through. The process allows me to sift through the dreams of how it was, how I wanted it to be, and how I can revision it. As I go through that, I find pieces that I want to resurrect, to say "Come out!" to so that I can feel more fully and robustly alive. It's a re-formation of those deepest parts of me that I allowed to stay asleep for a time. I'm excited about their return!

What traits or important pieces of you have you buried? or allowed to be asleep or buried? Do you want them to return? What do you imagine will happen if you tell them to "Come out!"?

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