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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Meditation: Jesus wept over Lazarus to call us to repentance

"Lazarus, come out!" Painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna
Magnificat has an interesting meditation today about Jesus' mercy to Lazarus, a selection from the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. It relates St. Augustine's belief that the the four days in the tomb represent the "fourfold spiritual death of the sinner." The four deaths include 1) death through original sin which actually brought physical death into the world, 2) death through actual sin against the natural law - something we see big-time in our own culture of death where mothers kill their own children and those enslaved by their own lust sin against their own bodies and those of others, 3) death through actual sin against the written law of God in the Ten Commandments, and 4) actual sin "against  the law of the Gospel and of grace." Think of how often we fail to listen to God's admonitions in the Sermon on the mount when Jesus says, "You have heard it said....but I tell you" when He expands the Mosaic law to embrace a more all-encompassing love that refuses to "look at another in lust" or even to "become angry with your brother."

St. Thomas goes on to describe a second interpretation where the first day in the tomb reminds us of "sins of the heart" - evil thoughts that percolate and arouse our passions. The second day reminds us of "sins of the tongue." Oh, how often our tongue gets us into trouble! Instead of speech that inspires hope and holiness, we contribute to the mass of uncharity in the world. The third day stands for "sins of evil action." When the sin conceived in our hearts and nurtured by sinful speech (even when we talk to ourselves), it often ends in some kind of evil action. And the fourth day reminds us of "sins of wicked habits." How hard it is to give up the sinful habits we love. We hold them close, justify them, rationalize them, and convince ourselves that "God understands." Instead of repenting and turning away from the sins, we turn away from God toward a false idol of Him, the loving marshmallow Jesus who will drag everyone into heaven on the last day, even those kicking and screaming with arms stretched out toward Satan.

In these interpretations, when Jesus called Lazarus forth from the tomb, he was calling mankind out of sin. The unbinding of Lazarus illustrates how God's love and mercy free us from sin that binds us up and makes us unable to see, hear, or move freely. But we can't be freed from our sins if we refuse to acknowledge them and repent. Unless a man recognizes he is chained up, he will never look for the key that unlocks his chains.

So today I'm praying to recognize the sins that separate me from my Lord and Savior and keep me bound up in slavery. Release me, O Lord, from my hidden sins, especially those that are buried deeply in my heart. Help me to know myself in You so I will clearly recognize who I am and who I am meant to be according to Your divine will. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Our Lady, help of Christians, pray for us.

1 comment:

Roe Antinore said...

Beautiful meditation.