Saturday, March 21, 2015

Faith: First and Last "Faith: First and Last"

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. 

So the sisters sent word to him, saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." When Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 

The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." He said this, and then told them, "Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him." So the disciples said to him, "Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved." But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, "Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him." So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go to die with him." 

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, "The teacher is here and is asking for you." As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Sir, come and see." And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." But some of them said, "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?" 

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man´s sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me." And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go." Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you created me, you love me, and you call me to your service. So I hope in you, in you steadfast love, and in your persistence in spite of my weaknesses and sins.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith in you and my reliance on you. Help me to live in the world as a traveler on a journey, never becoming caught up with things of this world but thinking and striving for glory with God.

1. Faith or Courage? Imagine the scene: the disciples stood frozen when they heard Jesus wanted to re-enter enemy territory. Only Thomas spoke up. His guess that going with Jesus to Judea meant instant martyrdom is not so remarkable for the weak faith it shows, but for the courage Thomas exhibits. The disciples all knew that returning to Judea meant that they might face death at the hands of the Jewish authorities, and indeed, Jesus’ miracle there signed his death warrant. The natural light of reason does not allow us to penetrate God’s designs; faith is the torch that lights our way to Jesus Christ, for he simply demands that we trust him and continue walking along the path he marks out for us.

2. Now But Not Yet. Martha indeed believes her brother will rise, but later, off in the distant future. This scene repeats my experience of God: like Martha, I believe that someday, somehow, Christ will reign and will come to meet each human being. Christ responds to me: “I am the resurrection. I am standing before you. The future is today.” Jesus Christ is the only answer for each and every man and woman, whether they want to accept that truth or not. We have to work and evangelize knowing that Jesus wants to burst into every person’s heart today, not tomorrow, not at the end of the world, not when the Judgment Seat is already warm.

3. Jesus Unchained. “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” Do not make the mistake of living your faith in the past, thinking that had you seen Jesus during his earthly life, your faith would be secure. Do not live your faith in the future, thinking that God will only reveal himself once your life has ended. The Gospel speaks truth, so the way Christ operated 2000 years ago is how he operates today — he simply demands faith. Jesus is God of the living, not the dead, so he lives in many people, and works everyday miracles in them. Unchain Jesus through faith, and allow him free reign to move you to do his work.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, there are so many times when I have missed opportunities to live my faith and to give my faith. Make yourself come alive to me in the pages of the Gospel and in the experience of the sacraments so that I will love you passionately as my Way, my Truth, and my Life.

Resolution: I will strive to see Jesus Christ active in my day, and to give him to someone in an act of “faith-courage.”

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