Lent Day 20 – Calling Us Out of the Tomb

by Bishop Robert Barron

Let’s reflect a bit more on Jesus’ encounter with Lazarus. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus “groaned in spirit.” Jesus’ trouble here is the result of his identification with sinful humanity. He goes all the way to the bottom of it, letting its truth affect him. Jesus does not just love us abstractly or from a distance; no, he comes close to us. More to the point, this groaning of Jesus signals the pain that God feels at our imprisonment. If his glory is our being fully alive, his agony is our sin. How salvific it can be to listen to this groaning of the Lord at our own lack of life.

In the same vein, Jesus weeps for his friend. There is something heartbreaking about this for it is the only time in the Scripture that Jesus is described as weeping. Whatever form death takes in us—physical, psychological, spiritual—it is something deeply troubling to God.

One detail is particularly moving: Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” Sin alienates us from our God, making us strangers to him. Just as God in the book of Genesis looked for Adam and Eve who were hiding from him, so here God incarnate doesn’t know where his friend Lazarus is.

Then the Lord comes to the tomb. We hear that it was a cave with a stone laid across it. When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them. When we feel spiritually dead, we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety and egotism and fear. But there is a power, a divine power, sent into this world whose very purpose is to break through all such stones.

“Lazarus, come out!” Are there any words more beautiful and stirring in the whole New Testament? From whatever grave we are lying in, Jesus calls us out.


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  • concerned citizen

    thank you Bishop Barron for the very thought provoking reflection on Jesus calling up Lazarus from the tomb. The greater our sins, and the more numerous they are, the deeper we dig ourselves into our spiritual grave. So deep, that we have to climb out of it and not just walk through like what Lazarus did when Jesus called him out. So deep, that we may fall many times before we finally succeed in getting out of the grave.

  • Jane

    Wow! So true… When we feel Spiritually dead we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety, egotism and fear. Really strikes a cord with me this morning. Thank you Bishop and all who comment. You’ve have been a great inspiration to me this Advent and Lenton season. Thank you Lord Jesus for calling us out.

    • Mary Hilchey

      True for me. You are echoing my thoughss. I do that. It is easier than taking courage o face fear which for me are irrational. come Lord Jesu and set me free.

  • Anton D

    Natural law – ‘When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them.’

    Supernatural law – Jesus Christ says “Lazarus, come out!”

    “The Glory of God is a human being fully alive” – St Irenaeus

    • Mary Hilchey

      Like this – to be alive in Christ.

  • Mary Hilchey

    I bury stuff – fake fears that hide the truth. Lord set me free.

  • ber

    There is a few striking things about this reflection that I had not noticed before if Jesus know who he was and knew the resurrection would take place why would he weep for Lazarus is this his first encounter with sin surley not yet this was the sin that drove him to tears for he is lost and now found notice he didn’t cry for the child he rose from the dead Lazarus was at the end of his life ?? It also brings to mind the tears of another at the tomb namley Mary when she said where have you put him both led to an encounter with rising from the dead Lazarus blends into the background and no more said Jesus on the other hand declares himself to Mary Lazare’s was the miracle where Jesus again declared himself master over life and death even his own yes he calls us out of our sin to life with him as the saying goes there’s no show without him he calls us all no exceptions because he is our friend a topic bishop Barron that needs a lot of discussion blessings all for your day may the lord today call us out today and we hear his voice

  • Anton D

    With a little help of our friend and Lord Jesus, today WE have to bring LIFE to the ones buried by our culture today.

    Let Jesus speak through us to the lonely, the destitute, the hungry & the imprisoned.

  • Becky

    Perfect description of how we bury ouselves in darkness, fear and sin and it consumes our soul and we hide from God!
    And he continues to call us back! He weeps for us….while we hide ourselves in that darkness.
    Lord help me to hear your call and respond!
    God Bless your all

  • ack8910

    Perhaps “Today you will be with me in paradise” gives it a run for the money.

  • Penelope

    Reading that Jesus calls me, as he did Lazarus, to come out of the darkness really spoke to my heart as well.

    Worry is my greatest sin. My prayer time this morning was a battle through my own darkness of worry and anxiety about one of our sons and his little one, my four-year old grandson. Then – when I read today’s Psalm – it touched me deeply, and then the psalm came into my heart, in song…’as a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God’. Psalm 42:1

    I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he came to rescue me. This was my call this morning to come out of the darkness of worry and fear. I felt such Peace!

    Here’s a link to the song…may you be blessed with His Peace that passes all human understanding…there is such hope in God.

    • Linda

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful version of Psalm 42 in song! So soothing and peaceful and such wonderful imagery of our own longing and thirst for God and desire to worship Him. Oh Lord, I thirst for you. I love you so much! Help me to love you more!

    • KathleenAnn

      Penelope, I’m listening and singing along to this as I type. Thank you for sharing, I’ve always loved this song and I needed to hear these words this morning more then once. God bless your day!

  • Patricia Robertson

    It is these apparently simple statements from Jesus that have the greatest power for me, “Lazarus, come out!” Or, when Magdalene finally recognizes him in the garden it is because he says, “Mary.” Perhaps that is all any of us needs: a rabbi to call us by name.

  • Joseph T. Garcia

    In the humanity of Jesus , when he heard of his dear friend , dying , he wept ..

  • Patrick Cassidy

    The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus shows how strong the boundary of sin is between us, and God. Some sins can seem so insignificant, but they will ultimately separate us from the Lord. While God is gracious and merciful, we should take care to not test Him, and repent now. We do not know when the Last Day is coming, but if we get rid of the barrier between us, and God, then maybe we will find ourselves with Him, as opposed to the fires below.

    May the Light of Christ drive away all the darkness and sin from our lives!

  • Jeanne Rogers

    Thanking God for the Sacrament of Confession as He calls us out of our tombs of sin into His grace and mercy! Ps. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and steadfast spirit within me. ❤️

  • June-Ruth A. Canonico

    Thank you for your Lent Reflections, Bishop Barron. there is another reference to Jesus weeping, in fact the inspiration for choral music too:

    Luke 19:41-44English Standard Version (ESV)

    Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

    41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

    • Gary

      Nice observation.

  • concerned citizen

    This also reminds us of what happened when Jesus died. He descended to the dead where the just went to because the gates of Heaven were still closed. And then He called out to them and told them they can now come out because the gates of Heaven were now opened. Although there were no fires in that place, it must have been also dark because they could not see the Light.

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

      Hi CC,

      Very important detail. In the Apostles Creed we Catholics grew up saying,
      it states “He (Jesus) descended into hell…. “!
      The word “hell” here, refers to the place where souls went who did not deserve it, who were not condemned to the “eternal fire”, the hell from which has no end and no souls there, get out of, period !

      Well, here is another untruth that circulates around the world that, eternal hell, along with the demons, will be destroyed by God after the Last Judgement! Wrong! Another deception of the evil one!

      Thanks, CC !

      God Bless,


      • concerned citizen

        Reminds me of the story of three group of devils who were sent by Lucifer to earth to get as many souls as they can. The first group told men there was no God. They got one soul each. The second group told men there was God but there was no hell. They got two souls each. The third group said, there was God and there was hell, but no worry, we can reform our lives later. This one got ten souls each.

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

          Hi CC,

          Thank you. Never heard that before!

          “You have time to repent… ” That is the most common. Jesus emphazies. being ready always, because you ?don’t know when it will be your time “!


          • Elizabeth

            So true, Michael, this past Friday attended a funeral Mass for a woman that wasn’t feeling well and in two days died. She is at peace, but her family needs prayers.

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

            Hi Elizabeth



          • Elizabeth

            May you be blessed because of your prayers for Fran’s family and friends. Peace

  • John Silva

    The ‘shortest sentence in the Bible”; “Jesus wept”, is so powerful, as Bishop Barron related. The pure emotion, compassion and love of Jesus is brought to light with this one sentence. I went to look up commentaries about this, and there are many, that delve into this further; very interesting reading. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/john/11-35.htm and many others

  • Ada Peace

    This is also a 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. For the past three years i have been seeing myself in deeper spiritual defilement where I’m constantly getting molested by evil spirits. But i cried out to God to not let sin or demons to dominate me. Lord Jesus stepped into my spiritual life and began delivering me. Let God arise and let all His enemies be shattered. Yes, I prayed that God will crush those demons of immorality and serpents just as Jesus crushed death. I prayed that the HolySpirit to dominate me everyday. I have been seeing results of my prayers and I am continuing to fight those evil spirits through daily prayers to keep them from returning. Now i have great desire to be a saint for Jesus Christ my God. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for conquering death for me.

  • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

    This is a tough one. When God calls us out in his love, we need to respond and know that He loves us. One thing at a time. Tat’s my honest answer. :)

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    The Lazarus story always intrigues me. Jesus fully human mourns his friend then Jesus fully God conquers death and redeems his friend.

  • Anitra Goudelock

    Thank you Bishop! What a powerful word!

  • Jackie

    and the more we isolate ourselves from one another the deeper the despair. God says:” It is not good for man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18.

    • anonymous

      as i’ve contemplated that verse over time, and the history of the church’s evolving, unfolding, and exposure, the further i become from this church(?). If one truly makes effort to love God with their whole heart, they will see it. All in all, Catholicism offers fullness, where else am i to go?

      • Jackie

        Not sure what you mean by “the further I become from this church(?)”. and “where else am I to go?”

        • anonymous

          Hmm, i’m thinking i read Gen 2:18 from a very different perspective. disregard

          • ber

            Not sure what your trying to say here ????

          • Jackie

            Have a goodnight.

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    Sin is at the root of all problem here on earth, the devil hate us and he will blind as many as he can. The 10 commandment still stand and Love they neighbor too. I want to go to confession a lot during Lent, to make sure I don’t take a wrong step. I put of the Armor of Jesus in Ephesians 6:11 every day. Everyone on earth should do this to protect yourself against the evil of this world teach your child to do this.

  • Mary Jane Madeline

    Thank you Bishop Barron for allowing us to take pause more with Lazarus and Jesus in this reflection. Usually it includes Mary and Martha in this story, but when the final day for each of us comes, it is a Jesus and me event. My thoughts- to be prepared; trying to be faithful to daily examination of conscience, repentance and confession. That is coming out of the grave.
    Psalm 130 also comes to mind. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord, hear my voice! O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading.
    If You, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive? But with you is found forgiveness, for this we revere you.
    My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. My soul is longing for the Lord more than watchman for daybreak.
    Let the watchman count on daybreak and Israel on the Lord.) Because with the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption, Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity.

    Blessed be God the Father, Jesus, the Divine Master, and Holy Spirit.

  • Linda Dokey

    Amen Amen ♡ THANK YOU Bishop Barron! GOD BLESS

  • rtclovesmac

    Sometimes we miss things when they are given to us only to find them when they are needed.

    Sin, like Hell, is the absence of God in our life.

    Hell is a place we are told Christ goes to only once after his death ( as stated in the Apostles creed)). Yet on on the third day he rises from the dead in fulfillment of the Scrptures.

    Forgiveness often causes us to groan when we face those who sin against us. It is love releasing itself to grow into something more beautiful….sort of like pruning a flower, or an acorn falling to the ground, only to have it grow.