March 17, 2013
The grave/tomb is the place sin takes us to hold us bound. We can not escape the grave sin seeks to hold us in alone – our spiritual eyes must be opened to see the escape route out – to hear the spirit of the Lord so that we can be fully alive and rise up out of the grave. Lent is viewed often as a time for individual preparation for Easter, rather than a time for renewal, rebirth and replenishment for the whole church community including the church. We are a people with not only individual and but also community flaws. Often flaws we didn’t wish for and wouldn’t wish on another.
Two sisters Mary and Martha were confronted with death of their beloved brother. We hear they sent for Jesus saying, the one you love is ill. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, so when he heard the news Lazarus was ill, he remained for two days in the place he was.
Why did he do that? He must have known it would not make Mary and her sister Martha happy. Jesus wanted to teach a family, a nation, his disciples, all of us and yep you too. By waiting he created anxiousness of the heart!
Jesus knows the flaws of our humanity. He knows that we often must experience an encounter that stretches us beyond our comfort zone. Jesus knows how to help us overcome the blindness and stumbling blocks our humanity places in our path. Blindness rooted in both our human nature, not attributable to consciousness of sin, and in the imposed blindness caused by self rationalization of our sin.
Rationalization is humanities way to hide from the truth that supports many layers of deeply rooted layers of fog flaws we find ourselves enveloped in. Fog we seem unable to see through.
The Church in its wisdom gave us three scrutinizes (sounds painful doesn’t it) during lent to help us begin to penetrate the fog. To scrutinize is to confront our human nature to choose to be blind. Today we celebrate the third scrutiny.
Scrutiny is a search, an in depth examination and inquiry into the depths of ones soul. To participate in true a scrutiny require the courage, to encounter the stench of death one encounters while digging up what was buried in a grave by the spirit of truth that calls us back to life. And it is not just for the benefit of the candidates and catechumens, but for the whole family and yep you and me too.
We do these rites (scrutiny) together in the hope we will remember the stories of Jesus encounters and sharing our own stories in the light of Jesus encounters with the Samaritan woman at the well at mid day, the blind man from birth, whose blindness was not caused by sin and Lazarus. In each story Jesus brought healing and conversion of individual people for the benefit of converting a whole people – the people of God.
Jesus waited until the time was right. We might, remember these lessons when we become impatient and our pleas and our prayers seen unanswered. After four days he arrived. Take away the stone. Martha said, Lord by now there will be a stench he has been dead for four days now.
Father I thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me. He always hears hears us when we call upon His name. But he knows how we learn and how stiff necked and hard hearted we can be! He cried out in a loud voice, Lazarus come out! Imagine Lazarus tied hand and foot, his face covered in a cloth bouncing awkwardly out! He either had to roll our or hop out – no way he could have walked out.
What did Jesus say to them when Lazarus came out? Untie him and let him go!
Jesus and the Church today are teaching us about the relationship we are called to build between the individual and the community. Untie him and set him free – the essence of a living, breathing and believing community.
O my people, I will open your graves, tough your flesh is dead because of sin and open your Spirit to see clearly the effects of our humanity, sin and the darkness that surrounds because of the light that comes to us through the free gift of grace is always present.
Lazarus comes to us out of the darkness of the grave, tied and bound in burial rope, and blinded by a cloth covering his face. Symbols of how our flaws hold us in bondage. Lazarus could not untie and set himself free nor can we. Lazarus is a story that demonstrates our faith is about living and believing not as just individuals but as a faith community. Jesus wants us to see, it takes the faith of a family and a supporting community to fully set Lazarus free – flaws and all. I wonder will we untie the bonds that tie our hands and feet?
That is precisely what the Gospel, lent and the OCIA journey are about. It is not just about the individual, the candidates or the catechumens. It is about this whole faith community coming together in one open spirit, to listen and share the story of scripture and each others story. Listening and being open to one another in spite of ours flaws. By melting into the one body of Christ we begin to untie the bonds that result in setting each person and the whole community free. That is how we love oen another and set each other free!