Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
Can you believe it is already the fifth Sunday of Lent? It is also the Sunday of third scrutiny for those who are to join the church on Easter. For each scrutiny there is a special story from St. John’s Gospel. Today the last of the three scrutiny Gospels we come against death. The ultimate test of faith. Jesus might have faced the personal experience of death at his good friend Lazarus and the question of his sisters Mary and Martha. As a human he cries but Jesus says I am the resurrection and life. Do you believe this? I think it is a time for all of us to scrutinize our on faith. Every one of us some time in our own life will have to face death and witness the death of our dear ones. Our faith will be tested in some degree. The most powerful moment of the story is when Lazarus emerges from the tomb bound hands and feet. Jesus say unbind him let him be free. It has a powerful effect. When sin and fear has tied up our life we need to hear Jesus saying you are forgiven and freed go in peace.
One of the most touching moments in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles came by surprise. It happened one night on prime-time television, after Jeff Blatnik of the United States defeated Thomas Johansson of Sweden for the gold medal in Graeco-Roman wrestling. When the match ended, Blatnik didn’t jump up and down. He didn’t throw his arms into the air. He didn’t make sweeping bows to the crowd. He simply dropped to his knees, crossed himself, bowed his head, and prayed. When the camera zoomed in on his face, millions of viewers saw the torrent of tears pouring down Blatnik’s cheeks. Blatnik had every right to cry. But it wasn’t because he had taken the gold in an event the United States had never won before. There was a bigger reason. Two years before, Jeff Blatnik had contracted cancer. Eighteen months before the games, he had undergone surgery. And now, in the face of great odds, he had won the second biggest battle of his life. The next day all major newspapers carried Blatnik’s story. Referring to Blatnik’s tears, sportswriter Bill Lyons wrote: “One of the most worthwhile things about the Olympics is that they remind us of the cleansing, therapeutic value of a good cry…You watch the gold medalists mount the victory platform, turn to face their flags and listen to their national anthems, and in almost every instance their eyes begin to mist…the sleek, the strong, the swift, they all succumb. And in doing so, in showing their humanity, they become even more appealing.” And that’s what happened in Blatnik’s case. Jeff Blatnik became an instant hero, not because of his victory over Johansson, nor because of his victory over cancer, but because he shared his humanity with us. Suddenly the 220-pound giant was like us in a beautiful, touching way.
We see the same kind of touching beauty in Jesus in today’s gospel. We see Jesus, the Son of God, cry at the tomb of Lazarus. It’s one of the most moving scenes in the gospels. And the reason it’s moving is because Jesus shares his humanity with us. But today’s gospel contains an even more important point about Jesus. It not only shows Jesus weeping for Lazarus; it also shows him raising Lazarus. Today’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus isn’t just another human person. He’s also the Son of God. Jesus can not only inspire us by his humanity; he can also empower us by his divinity. Jesus can touch our lives in a way that no other human could ever touch us. The Olympic story of Jeff Blatnik and the gospel story of Lazarus – these stories speak to us about Jesus in two special ways. First, they remind us that Jesus is human just as we are; he became one of us and shared our humanity with us. Because of this, he inspires us and gives us hope. Second, the stories remind us that Jesus is also the Son of God. He can help us in a way no human can. He can help us beyond our wildest dreams. He can raise us to new life, as he raised Lazarus. This is the good news in today’s readings. It’s the good news of the humanity of Jesus, which inspires us. It’s also the good news of the divinity of Jesus, which empowers us. It’s the good news of Jesus, who raises us to new life. As we are nearing Easter allow Jesus to set us free of fear and sins. And let us embrace him as the resurrection and life.
God Bless You,