What prevents us from experiencing resurrection?

Jesus offers us new life. He will call us by name and loose that which binds us. And then, as others witness the change that Jesus makes in us, they, too, will come to believe and will find new life in Christ.

Mar 24, 2023

                        Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with the HERALD team

5th Sunday of Lent (A)
Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14;
Romans 8:8-11;
Gospel: John 11:1-45

It seems death permeates our lives and world. It hangs like a cloud and blows through places stricken by natural disasters and countless other places filled with war and violence. It wafts into our lives taking those we love and cherish.
Every day we smell death and every day we have the opportunity, by the grace of God, to change and be changed, to unbind and be unbound, to let go and be let go.

Death stinks. There’s no getting around it.

But here’s the thing: we can’t experience resurrection until we experience death. We can’t accept new life in Christ until we allow our old, sinful lives to end. What do you need to let die, so that you can come out of your tomb? What binds you to death, and prevents you from living abundantly, fully, as a new creation?

Whatever keeps you wrapped up in a dark cave of pride, hatred, lust, greed, or deceit, or whatever stinks in your life, hear the voice of Jesus calling to you, “Come out of there!”

And then you must decide. Do you fall back into the tomb, or do you step out into the unknown? Because what lies ahead is completely new territory. But you don’t have to go there alone. When Lazarus stepped out of that tomb, there were friends at hand to help him get out of his grave clothes, to support him and love him. That’s what this community of faith is for: to help each of us get unbound.

And what about our BECs and parish communities? What do we need to let die, so that our community can experience new life in Christ? What binds us so tightly we can’t move forward? What shroud keeps us from seeing the neighbours around us? What prevents us from experiencing resurrection?

Maybe we all are a little like Martha sometimes. How many times have we asked God to do something and then tried to take back control because there might be something unpleasant we don’t want to have to deal with in the process? How often do we feel the panic that comes with realising that the fulfilment of our prayers may mean having to face what just plain stinks? People complain about how the environment is being ruined but don’t want to deal with the smell, the discomfort, or the inconvenience of doing some cleaning up. We declare that something should be done for the homeless, but we pretend we don’t see them when we pass them on the way into our places of work each day. Similarly, we want Jesus to work miracles as long as there’s nothing to offend our senses or sensibilities.

Maybe like Martha, we’ve asked Jesus to help us, and we’re sure He hasn’t heard. Remember, Jesus won’t always answer when or how we expect, but that doesn’t mean our requests are unheard. Jesus will find a way to use even the most painful of situations to bring glory to God.

Or maybe, like Martha, where we feel confused by something Jesus said; perhaps we’re struggling with the Word of God. Remember that though there are some lessons we may not fully understand, we may still trust in Jesus because we know who He is and we know who sent Him; and sometimes if we just keep faith and continue to walk with Jesus, He will take us to a place where all becomes clear.

Or maybe, like Martha, we have turned to Christ for help but fear that the answer will be messy in some way. Jesus knows our doubt but wants us to keep faith so that we, too, will see the glory of God.

Or maybe, like Lazarus, we feel as though life has gone out of us or perhaps that life has passed us by. Maybe we’re feeling soul-less and wrapped up in things that won’t let us go.

Jesus offers us new life. He will call us by name and loose that which binds us. And then, as others witness the change that Jesus makes in us, they, too, will come to believe and will find new life in Christ.

Jesus shows us that He is truly the redeemer who can restore our value, even bringing new life to rotting flesh and calling us into a new life so that we can experience the resurrection today. That is the fullness of the Good News that eternal life begins today by opening our heart.

As we stumble forward, that voice we love says, “Come out of there! Get unbound!” We are stepping into new territory. But Jesus is right there, waiting for us.

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