Holy Week is upon us, and regardless of your commitment to the Lenten practices you made around Ash Wednesday, there is still time to re-center yourself upon the spiritual meaning of Lent. Over the next several days we walk together with Christ up until his passion and resurrection. Catholic in Recovery will be offering short reflections throughout the week to unite us with the journey of Christ.
Today’s Gospel reading (John 12:1-11) takes place “six days before Passover” and begins,
Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Let’s remember that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus who was pronounced dead for four days. He weeps at the sight of his dead friend, whose death can be paralleled with a sort of spiritual death that some of us on earth experience. Upon witnessing our spiritual death and isolation that we go through, especially in the midst of our active addictions, I am certain that Christ weeps for our loss as well.
The response of Christ to our own spiritual sickness is the same as when he is made aware of the illness of Lazarus. Mary and Martha bring it to Jesus’ attention by simply stating, “Master, the one you love is ill” (John 11:3). They do not suggest solutions to Jesus, but humbly make known their family’s suffering and the potential loss of their brother, Lazarus. How many times have we brought our requests to Jesus with the faith that he will find a solution? Instead, do we make our own suggestions for what the Lord should do with situations of suffering and the sickness of our loved ones?
“When Jesus heard this he said, ‘This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it’” (John 11:4). Christ saves us for the sake of our own faith and in an effort to glorify God. He works in mysterious ways and for mysterious reasons, but always has the entire picture in mind—the vision of the Kingdom of God. I think of how my small plans for glorifying myself and relieving burdens that keep me down are not always on par with the great plans that God has for me and for His Kingdom.
When I got sober I simply just wanted some of the “stuff” back that I had lost due to my alcoholism and drug addiction. In giving me new life, Christ has done so much more and has given opportunities to walk with Him and “recline at table with Him”. Towards the end of today’s Gospel passage, which describes Christ’s captors moving closer to arresting Him, we see the glory that the saving of Lazarus has brought to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.
Jesus came through with his promise of saving the life of Lazarus and glorifying God in the process. He makes the same promise to us and loves us as an intimate friend, waiting for us to come back and walk with Him. He brings grace to our lives not only to redeem us, but for the sake of bringing others to Him as well. How does the love and mercy that Christ has shown you transcend the faith of others? Upon blessing you with grace, do you return to the Lord to spend time with Him and “recline at table with Him”, even as he is being persecuted and nearing His own death?
Please use this as a moment of personal reflection and, if you feel called, comment and share with your own experience.