Sunday, April 6, 2014

Life Changing Friendship

“Master, the one you love is ill.”

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

“Our friend Lazarus is asleep…”

When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled…

And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”

Throughout our dramatic Gospel today, we are given the very real sense that Jesus cared deeply for his friend Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. It is very important that we understand that this is not just some random miracle: the healing of a blind man on the side of the road; the curing of a woman in a crowd; the raising of an official’s slave. Rather, this is someone very close to Jesus – a friend – someone capable of eliciting a response of tears from the Son of God standing before his grave.

Equally important is that we realize that this is the same friendship that Jesus calls us to with Him. “The one you love is ill.” Whom does Jesus love? Ask your kids! Jesus loves everyone!

Our Lord calls each of us to a true relationship with Him. In fact, this is not just some clinical, sanitary “relationship;” rather, this is real friendship. Friendship is a special type of relationship. Some relationships we are born into: children, brothers and sisters, family. Other relationships are born of necessity: my barber, the guy who changes my oil, the grocer. However, other relationships demand a choice for them to be true, and friendship is exactly one of these. 

Friendship is a life-changing relationship. It is more than “acquaintance” or partnership. Friendship makes us different; it turns us “Inside-Out.”

For Lazarus, this “inside-out” experience is literally life changing. He goes from the darkness and stillness of death to the light and beauty of life, all at the Lord’s call.

“See how he loved him.”

My dear friends, when you’re in a relationship you know it; when you’re in a life changing relationship everyone knows it!

Lent is meant to be a time of conversion, of renewal, and of commitment. During these forty days, we turn away from sin, leaving behind us the darkness and doubt that come from a broken relationship with the Lord. In that conversion, we renew our faith in Christ, which gives us eternal life and calls us to “Come out” of the tombs that have held us captive. Then, and only then, can we be free enough to make the commitment of faith that will transform our lives and make us true signs of this new life to others in the world.

The Walking Dead - Thanks for raising us, Jesus
We are not called out of these tombs to simply live our normal lives over and over again. That would be a life of the “walking dead” – reanimated but not really “alive.” Rather, we are changed – turned inside-out – transformed after the model of our True Friend Jesus. When a woman gets engaged, you will never see her walking around with her hands in her pockets! She’s showing that ring off to whoever will pay attention. So should it be with us and our life changing relationship with Jesus.

Our presence here must have an effect in our lives. Hearing this story of the raising of a dead man is not just a nice tale; we too are called out – from tombs of isolation and fear, doubt and loss, addiction and hopelessness – and we are sent forth to be signs of the new life we have received.

Lazarus became a celebrity just as much as Jesus after this event. People wanted to see and meet the man who was turned inside-out by Christ – called out from the tomb and standing in the light of day. Does our faith make others want that too – or does it not even register with people?

Remember: it all begins with friendship and the love of Christ for us. He pours His Spirit into us and through that Spirit we have life. Here, we receive His Body and Blood by which Jesus feeds us and brings us new life.

See how he loves you!

Now, step out into the light and let others see that love as well.

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