Rembrandt (1606-1669) The Raising of Lazarus, circa 1630-1632 oil on oak panel Los Angeles County Museum of Art
[Jesus] cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” John 11:43-44
Sometimes I feel emotionally and spiritually dead, but Jesus calls me to come out of the tomb of depression and sends people to untie the bands of sadness, self-hatred, and self-preoccupation so that I may again relish the gifts of life, love, and companionship.
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” John 9:1-3
The works of God are love, healing, compassion, forgiveness, non-judgment, acceptance, peace, non-violence, faith, hope, comfort…
How are the works of God made visible through me and my words, actions, behaviors, and attitudes?
[Jesus said to his disciples:] “Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:28b-30
Have faith in God’s care and comfort. Have faith in God’s tender compassion. Have faith in God’s unchanging, unconditional love. Have faith in our own reflection of God’s love and goodness.
Ecce Agnus Dei, 1455/60 Giovanni di Paolo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
John points to Jesus as the one who will be sacrificed to save us. Yet I like to meditate on Jesus as the one who came to be with us because of God’s great love for us; who suffered pain and understands our suffering when we are in pain; who struggled with human emotions such as sorrow and anger and understands our struggles to move through grief and let go of resentment; who patiently teaches us, prays with us, and eats with us; who died and rose from the dead to give us the hope of eternal life in perfect love and union with God.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:22-23
Whether I’m having an easy day or a hard day, God is with me. Whether I’m feeling peaceful or angry, God is with me. Whether I believe or don’t believe, God is with me.
“…he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:38
Death feels like separation, but if I can put my trust in Jesus’ words, then I know God holds us all, the dead and the living. With God there is no separation, only unity: the undivided, unconditional love of the One who has created every human person in love and for love yesterday, today, and forever.