“Untie Him and Let Him Go!”Lenten Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
Today we ponder the death and resurrection of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (John 11:1-45). This good news, this passage from the Gospel is rich with many meanings. We marvel at Martha’s faith as she pleas for her brother’s life,even after he is dead and buried. We remember all those who have gone to God before us and with Jesus, we weep. We marvel that even with the power of raising the dead, Jesus weeps at death. Jesus knows how hard it is to die and to lose someone we love from this earth. It consoles me that Jesus knows this and weeps at death, for I do too. And as I look back I remember the deaths of each one gone home to God whom I have loved so much. And I miss them even as I celebrate their eternal life. Oh, thanks be to God! Death is not final after all.
I feel the beauty of the earth today. I feel my connection to it. I love the feel of the sun on my back as I stand by my little lake and feed the ducks and water birds and turtles. The lightness of the air and the brightness of the day intoxicates me. And I have spoken with loved ones today and am so thankful to love and to be loved, to be a person capable of relationship and compassion. Three of my cats sleep near me as I write this. One hangs precariously off of a top perch and one makes me laugh as he pours out of his little bed on my side desk. And one has just risen to greet the day. Oh, I am thankful today.
I reflect on God’s gift of new life. And I reflect on how complete healing and the gift of new life can be. Jesus commanded: “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came forth from his grave in the side of a cave as Jesus commanded and he was wrapped in grave clothes from head to toe. I think about the grave clothes that cling to us even when we are given a new chance at life through our faith in God in Christ. I think of the faith it takes to do something completely new. I think of the many chances at new life I have been given and how it is so tempting to hang on to the past we know and not step forward into new life. I think of when we left our lives in Connecticut nearly 25 years ago and moved to this strange land that I love so well now. I marvel at all God had in store for us here, God’s service, ministry, priesthood, a whole new world-and how we knew none of this when we moved here.
I think of Jesus’ words to the family and friends of Lazarus: “Untie him and let him go”. How clearly we need others to help unbind us. I can see Mary and Martha assisting with the removal of the burial cloths and Lazarus emerging and feeling the sun on his face, and seeing and feeling his loved ones once again. I can feel the gratitude and the joy and the amazement he must have felt as he was freed of what bound him in death. My guess is that they all cried together. including Jesus, and it was “happy tears” this time.
And now I think on what may bind us in burial clothes when we could become fully alive. It could be fear for fear is a powerful thing that often holds us back from fulfilling our dreams and our destiny. It could be holding on too tight to what we are familiar with. It could be that we need more support and we just can’t do it all ourselves. It could be that it is hard for us to trust when we cannot see all that is ahead. For as many of us that exist there are unique reasons that work to hold us back. It is worth our energy and reflection to identify where we may be going and what is holding us back. Then we can pray to be “let go”. And we can go, we can assume full lives as our God of Love intends for us.
So with Lazarus, let us come forth and let us be unbound from all that is destructive and dis empowering in our lives. Indeed, let us help one another to be unbound!
I am so thankful for our Good Shepherd Community and the way each one works to free the next one to be all he or she can be! Some beloved holy members have gone home to God since these pictures were taken. And yet, the community will always live on in the love of Christ Jesus.
Here is a link to last year’s blog on this wonderful Gospel affirming life:
If this link leads mistakenly to another of my blogs, and I surely don’t know why it does this, just type in- your brother will rise- under SEARCH and you will get to the correct blog.
May God bless you as you continue your journey,
Pastor Judy Lee
Rev. Dr. Judith AB Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers
Oh those grave clothes! Interesting that Lazarus was bound so he needed others to help him become unbound so he could fully appreciate his own new life.
You have spent a life taking off those clothes, some dirty and smelly, like those of Lazarus, to bring others more fully into new life.
Praise Be To Our Wonderful Lord!