Lent Day 19 – Lazarus, Come Out!

by Bishop Robert Barron


Jesus raises three people from the dead in the Gospel stories: the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Naim, and Lazarus. In the symbolic language of the Gospels, these physical resuscitations are evocative of spiritual raisings from sin to spiritual health.

St. Augustine says that the young girl, who dies inside her house, symbolizes the sin that takes place in our thoughts and our hearts but that has not yet borne fruit in action. The son of the widow of Naim, carried to the gate of the house, represents sin that has expressed itself concretely in action. This dead man is raised and given back to his mother, who stands for the Church.

Thirdly, and most drastically, we have the case of Lazarus. He stands for the worst kind of moral/spiritual corruption: sin that has been expressed in the world and become embedded in evil custom and habit. This is the rot that has really set in, producing a spiritual stink.

In the Gospel of John, the raising of Lazarus takes place just before the Passion, just before the climactic moment when Jesus defeats death by succumbing to it. When told that Lazarus has died, Jesus says, “Our beloved Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him” (John 11:11). With these words, he signifies we are in a new world. Within the confines of the old world, the old consciousness, death is ultimate, and its very finality gives it its power, but referring to it as “sleep,” Jesus is signaling that through God’s power and according to God’s purpose, death is not ultimate; it is not the final word.

“When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days” (John 11:17). This is to signal that there is no mistake; the man is truly and definitively dead. But this is no concern for the one who transcends both space and time, whose power stretches beyond life and death as we know them.

Martha comes out to meet him and indicates her incipient belief in his identity and power: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother never would have died. Even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask him.” Jesus replies, “Your brother will rise again…I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:21-25). God hates death and doesn’t want its phony finality to ruin human life.

Coming to Lazarus’s tomb, Jesus feels the deepest emotions and begins to weep. This is God entering into the darkness and confusion and agony of the death of sinners. He doesn’t blithely stand above our situation, but rather takes it on and feels it.

But then, like a warrior, he approaches the enemy. “Take away the stone,” he directs. Those who are stuck within the confines of this world protest, “Lord, surely there will be a stench.” They are saying, “Don’t mess with death; you can’t reverse it. Its power is final.”

Jesus is undaunted. He commands, “Lazarus, come out!” This is the voice, not simply of a hopeful human being, not simply of a great religious figure; this is the voice of God who hates death and has dominion over it. And therefore “The dead man came out.”

Jesus finally says, “Untie him and let him go free.” Just as he freed Lazarus, so Jesus liberates us from our thralldom to death.

   

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  • Anton D

    – young girl, who dies inside her house:
    symbolizes the sin that takes place in our thoughts and our hearts but that has not yet borne fruit in action.
    – The son of the widow of Naim, carried to the gate of the house:
    represents sin that has expressed itself concretely in action. This dead man is raised and given back to his mother,
    who stands for the Church.
    – case of Lazarus.:
    He stands for the worst kind of moral/spiritual corruption: sin that has been expressed in the world and become embedded
    in evil custom and habit.

    Jesus finally says, “Untie him and let him go free.”
    Just as he freed Lazarus, so Jesus liberates us from our thralldom to death.

    (thralldom = The state of being under the control of another person)

    • ber

      Amen to that anton

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      This is exactly how I feel today. The simple anointing of the sick that I received on Feb 16. Was the most profound religious experience I have ever had, Even as I write tears of joy fill my eyes. Of course the sins like my stitches still hurt a little and there is much work to be done to regain my strength both physical and spiritual

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Barbara,

        Tears !! Beautiful!!

        I call them the “Jesus Hug”!

        Peace,
        Michael

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          Thank you Michael

  • ber

    Dear bishop Barron as you said this and connected the dots I was able to identify such an experience in my own life where I came back to life from sin simple as I was I did not go to a wise confessioner who could have set me straight right away instead you could say I was dead in sin I pined for the God I couldn’t find then one day suddenly he called me back as they say the rest is history.DEath for me is not the physical death of the body but it’s when we reject God or have an absence of God within I have to say I did not reject God but he for whatever reason withdrew from me and I greaved the loss God used Lazarus death to show who he was and that he has the power over life and death? Who in right mind would choose death over life (Devil death…Jesus life ) yet we do it all the time but we don’t join up the dots and live in ignorance of what it is to be alive may God grant us such a grace this day and say during this time of lent to come to the resurrection of life where Jesus instead of Mary he says to us Bernie come out …. Many blessings for your days guys

    • Gary

      I don’t think God ever withdraws from us. He has an everlasting covenant of Love with us. Even when we withdraw from him, he woes us back.

      • Barbara Ann Baugh

        Amen to that Gary God will bring us back even if it means we have to suffer some physical discomfort.

  • Betty Cooper

    Why can’t this all represent exactly what it was…….Jesus had power over death since He was the creator of life. Too much delving into the “meaning” is overlooking this simple fact.

    • Anton D

      Sin is / leads to Death.

      Could it be the Church is teaching us that Jesus has power to take away our sins from our mind, from our actions
      and from our established evil custom and habit and make us new.

      Jesus has power over Sin, Jesus has power over Death.

      • Gary

        Jesus conquered both.

    • Gary

      I agree Betty.

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Yes this showed that Jesus had power over death. But to see that Jesus also has power over spiritual death some must dig deeper than others.

  • April H

    Good morning, one of the things that I love most about Jesus is his Faith. His Faith carries me through the days that I struggle with my own and when I think I have enough too. What love. I’m not sure I could express my gratitude even if I tried. Thank you for being here sisters and brothers. Thank you Father Baron and his team. With love, April

  • Debbie

    Thank you Bishop Barron, for taking three stories from the bible, and delving into them deeper than I could have imagined. Just when I think I understand what we are being taught, you dig even deeper, and present more meaning to these stories. And ultimately give us more hope that God indeed will be the one to set us free, if only we will follow him. Satan has no power over us, and we must overcome his temptations. Thank you so much. I am so glad that I found you on the web!

  • Patrick Cassidy

    That moment when you wake up spiritually for the first time is very overwhelming. I think many “cradle Catholics” take this for granted, as I did, as well. “Amazing Grace” describes this feeling perfectly. “I once was lost, but now am found.” We are all sinful wretches, yet God still loves us.

    Today’s culture encourages everybody to live out how you feel is right (man, woman, baby, cat). But, the Church is encouraging us to live our lives for Christ. We are called to be conformed to the Glorious body of our Lord, everything else is just substituting that inherent need to be with Him for something else.

    Love God, Follow Jesus, and Welcome the Holy Spirit.

    • Patricia Robertson

      Much earlier, the prophet Micah said it in an earthier way, ‘What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with your God.”

      • Mary Hilchey

        Yes, indeed…..

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      Sometimes God has to shake you several times before you really get the wake-up call

      • Elizabeth

        Barbara Ann good to see you back on the Lenten Reflection~ Hope all prayers were answered!

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          Yes all prayers were answered and then some. I had the most intense religious experience I have ever had when I received the anointing of the sick. I definitely felt free of all sin. Not that I don’t expect to spend some time in Purgatory but then there are probably a lot of interesting souls there

          • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

            Barbara,

            How beautiful!

            Peace,

            Michael

    • Mark

      Jesus wants us to share intimate love with him in the Eucharist. As a bridegroom gives his body in intimate union with his bride, so Jesus gives us his body in intimate union with the recipient in the Eucharist. When Jesus says in Scripture, “I never knew you,” perhaps he means that he never knew the person he’s addressing in an intimate way in the Eucharist.

  • Joseph T. Garcia

    The humanity of Jesus is ;He wept at the tomb of Lazarus , his friend .

  • Penelope

    God’s Word brings us deeper and deeper, and nearer, clearer, and dearer, to His Heart. Thank you, Bishop Barron for sharing this wisdom from St. Augustine! I often confess the thoughts of my heart, because I am afraid they will lead to my doing or saying something that may cause a break in a relationship, or hurt someone. I sometimes feel that it is a bother to bring these things to the priest in Confession – which of course it is not – Thank you so much for this great confirmation to keep going, and going, and going!

    What a gift we have been given in the Sacrament of Reconciliation! When I was a child, we would walk in procession every Friday morning to the Church near our school. We would go to Confession, and after we prayed our penance, we could choose what we would like to do in the church while we waited for our fellow students. I usually prayed the Stations of the Cross. When I grew up, I passed through a difficult period in my life, and I truly felt that the Lord had abandoned me. When I turned to Him in a moment of desperation and surrendered my life to Him, everything changed, and I knew that He had always been with me, like the Footprints poem.

    Today, I have again become like that child that I was in school, I love going to Confession, and praying the Stations of the Cross. The grace, freedom, and love that I receive through the sacrament of Reconciliation now leads me to run, not walk, to the confessional. Such Peace, such Love, such Grace as I could ever hope or imagine to receive!

    Now my motto concerning Confession is: Run, don’t Walk!

    • Mary

      Awesome! You are a wonderful example!

  • Penelope

    Hello again, my fellow Lenten sojourners. I just wanted to share a beautiful prayer of Saint Ignatius that came to me as I shared a few moments ago…with prayers for many blessings, Penny

    Prayer for What I Want

    Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly,
    love thee more dearly,
    follow thee more nearly.

    From the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola [104]

  • rtclovesmac

    Today’s post is a new take…a new enlightenment of this events in the life of Christ, and ours. Thank you

  • Elizabeth

    St. Augustine says that the young girl, who dies inside her house, symbolizes the sin that takes place in our thoughts and our hearts but that has not yet borne fruit in action.

    The example I remember hearing deals with a man (or woman) who desires another’s wife/husband in his/her thoughts but does not pursue his/her desire.

    The son of the widow of Naim, carried to the gate of the house, represents sin that has expressed itself concretely in action. This dead man is raised and given back to his mother, who stands for the Church.

    The example that comes to mind is Peter denying Jesus 3 times, runs away in fear and then has remorse and the rest is history.

    Thirdly, and most drastically, we have the case of Lazarus. He stands for the worst kind of moral/spiritual corruption: sin that has been expressed in the world and become embedded in evil custom and habit. This is the rot that has really set in, producing a spiritual stink.

    Anton described in words the meaning of Thrall. I had to look it up and found the X box game that many of the youngsters play – Tomb Raider and Thrall is the slave master.

    I appreciate Bishop Robert Barron your use of the noun Thrall in relation to Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the clutches of death. Lazarus then receives a second chance to redeem himself – Thanks Be to God.

  • 50AF

    “Lazarus, come out!” Can you not hear the loving and salvific voice of God in those dramatic words, the clarion call that Our Lord makes to all of us to awake from our sleep and come back to life in Him?

    We are all Lazarus alone in the cave. We are all entombed by our restricting self-concern, by the “rot” that sets in when we make our lives about ourselves. How “embedded” indeed, and how bracing the raw emotion and urgency of Our Lord’s call to ACT, to leave this dead life behind us and enter into the eternal life of love that He has made for us.

    And for good reason, because even as I write I can feel that ever-present and powerful resistance within me, that urge to remain with the walls of my self-concern and cling to my slumber. When will these fine-sounding words become the reality of our lives? Pray for me and for each other, that we will hear and – most important — respond to God’s call to act, to “Come Out!”

  • concerned citizen

    Thank you Bishop Barron for your profound insights to the meaning of Jesus raising Lazarus back to life.

    When we were born, our soul was spiritually dead. But after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, it became supernaturally alive. We became children of God and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. Isn’t that awesome? And if we die in the state of grace, we will be enjoying happiness for eternity (even if initially we may have to pass through purgatory). And just as Jesus raised Lazarus to life, He by His Death and Resurrection, also won for us back our supernatural life which our first parents lost at the garden of Eden. In dying He destroyed our death. In rising He restored our life.

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Hi CC,

      Thank you!

      This is a perfect example as to why theological studies are essential in the Catholic Church.

      This is an example why I get so much backlash from non-Catholics concerning scriptural translation. This is proof that literal translation cannot always be the meaning of text!

      Peace,

      Michael

      • concerned citizen

        Michael, for Catholics on the other hand, some of them don’t see the importance or the urgency of having their baby baptized within 2 weeks. For some reason or another like not having the money to hold a celebration after the Baptism, they keep on postponing the Baptism.

        • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

          Hi CC,

          Very true. More so today than in the past.

          Situation ethics…… “There is no hurry….. we have plenty of time”!

          My website:
          http://www.irishmike.org

          Peace,

          Michael

          • concerned citizen

            thanks for the web site. Will visit it later.

  • ber

    Reflecting on the topic today I wondered where and why I had received the grace to hear Christ’s call back to life in him and I have to say it was not trough my own merits it was trough the prayers of my parents who never gave up praying for us my brothers and sisters and I relized it was also trough the prayer request of Mary that Lazarus heard the voice calling him ???? A lesson I’m sure to pray more for others

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    The Most Holy Trinity Love’s us with a burning Love not like we perceive Love to be. Like the burning bush flames that never go out. Thank you for staying with us in the Holy Eucharist feeding us with you Heart of Love.

  • Gary

    Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead is proof that he is the Son of God. Jesus wept is proof that he is truly human. The raising of Lazarus is a prelude of his own Resurrection. He truly Conquered the grave and sin giving us life. We truly have to live our lives in the power of the resurrection by the Holy Spirit.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    This is a particularly poignant reflection for me. I have come through a life threatening situation. I had surgery on the 17. Before surgery I was anointed and received absolution. I truly feel as if I have walked out of the tomb. Praise God for my healing both spiritual and physical

  • http://joanneutke.blogspot.com Joanne Utke

    Beautiful reflection! May we all be awakened from our spiritual deaths and rise to new life as a new creation in Christ. Amen

  • Jackie

    “He who is not busy being born is busy dying”. Bob Dylan. Physical death is nothing compared to spiritual death. . Every day we have to pick up our mat and walk. When life is good, it’s easy but when one is faced with many challenges both physical and spiritual it’s hard to choose the road less traveled. Pray for deliverance.

  • Màire Ní Bhroin

    Every day is a Lazarus moment for all of us, at least that is how I feel after a recent accident. I now truly wake up more grateful to be alive and I say thank you Lord for giving me another day. Every day is indeed a gift from God!

  • Linda Dokey

    Blessed Mother Mary Pray for Us Sinners Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

  • Lucija Suzana

    1938: The Great Groblja pod moon objavio Plon je test protiv Frankovog režima podržan od strane francuskog akcije. Bernanos sramotu perfidnosti misli, Franco da zločine i masakre koje su počinili Phalangisti su napravljene u ime Hrista. Na lijevoj strani, a posebno mladi Albert Camus, odaje počast ovu stavku. U julu, preselio se u Paragvaj za obnovu novi Francuske u tropima, a u Brazilu, gdje će pokušati obnoviti usklađivanje finansijskog zdravlja, Fazendas.

    1939 Scandal istine i Gallimard smo francuski Gallimard. Njegov tri sin vratio iz Brazila, treba se unijeti u francuskoj vojsci.

    1940: Prelazak na krst Souls, Haciendas nalazi u Barbacena. On ulazi u intelektualni otpor i objavljuje tekstove u pregledu Fontaine čelu Max Pol Fouchet u Alžiru.

    1941. godine primio krst Souls, Stephan Zweig i osudio nacistički barbarizam protiv sinova Izraela. To je intenzivan trenutak duhovnog susreta između katoličke i jevrejske. Ali to ne može spriječiti samoubistvo svog prijatelja i supruga od 22. februara 1942. godine u punom karneval u Rio de Janeiru.

    1942: publikacije u Rio de Janeiru od strane Švicarske izdavača Charles Offaire Pismo na engleskom. Ona podržava otpor. On se bori sa svim dušu protiv Hitlera i nacizma i koristi svoj polemički talenat za slobodne Francuske, posebno za BBC i Marseljezu Londonu. On je postao jedan od duhovnih vođa Slobodne Francuske i pisane paralelno sa trideset brazilske novine protiv nacističke barbarizma.

    1943: publikacije u Rio de Janeiru od strane Švicarske izdavača Charles Offaire g Ouine.

    1943-1945: publikacije u Rio de Janeiru od strane Švicarske izdavač Charles Offaire The Way of the Cross duša, u četiri toma.

    1944: Na kraju godine, Bernanos napisao La France protiv roboti. To daje tekst Komitetu Besplatan Francuska Brazil, koji objavljuje originalno izdanje.

    1945. General de Gaulle ga je pozvao da se vrati u Francusku, gdje on želi da postavi uključujući vlade ili Akademije. On je otišao u Rio de Janeiro 31. maja i vratio se u Francusku, ali bolesni i nemaju fleksibilan kičmu, on će ostati na marginama francuskog života. Scene političkog čišćenja u Francuskoj ail. Odbio je po četvrti put, Legije časti i odbio sjedište u Francuske akademije: “Kada imam samo par stražnjice da mislim, ja ću sjediti na francuski akademija” .

    1946: Pismo na engleskom je ponovo objavljena po Gallimard i gospodin Ouine Plon. Objavljeno u Rio de Janeiru La France protiv robota. Postojao je snažan zagovornik slobode čovjeka protiv svih diktatura, nacističke, fašističke, komunističke, tehnokratske, vjerske i demokratske.

    1947. U Francuskoj protiv robota je ponovo objavljena u veljači, Robert Laffont na 222 stranica. On naselili u Tunisu i napravio predavanje turneju u Sjevernoj Africi.

    1948. je Križni put u Souls je ponovo objavljena po Gallimard.

    5 juli 1948: Bernanos umire. Sahranjen je na groblju Pellevoisin, u blizini Chateauroux

  • Ada Peace

    Very powerful message from the Word of God. This message spoke directly to my heart. I envisioned Jesus Christ doing the same ressurection for me. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for conquering death for me.