By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THE story of Christ raising Lazarus to life again (cfr Jn 11,1-45) is a poignant reminder that death does not have the last word for us. We are meant for life everlasting with God in heaven, or God forbid, eternal condemnation in hell if we fail to correspond to God’s love for us. Neither are pain and suffering the main ingredient or the ultimate goal of our earthly life. It’s joy, peace, victory, success, offered to us by Christ himself, our savior.
We need to be clear about these fundamental truths, so we be guided properly in our life, making the right choices, since our life is neither a matter of fate nor of luck, but rather of choice, first that of God who chooses to love us in spite of whatever, and that of ours. But we have to learn to choose properly.
Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, including the worst scenarios possible to our human, earthly condition, we can always manage to find joy and peace if we allow ourselves to be guided by our Christian faith, rather than by our human estimation of things alone.
We have to look at death from the point of view of faith. This gives us the ultimate measure of reality. Objectivity is not only matter of the senses nor of the intellect. We cannot simply rely on our feelings, our hunches, our reasoning. We have to use our faith, which our Lord in the first place gives us abundantly.
More importantly, the story of Christ raising Lazarus to life again reminds us that we need to rise from the dead, that is, the death of sin and its many dangers and threats that continually hound us all throughout our life.
Only Christ can raise us from such death. But we somehow need to dispose ourselves to such intervention of Christ. Yes, we have to work on our continuing conversion, ours and that of others.
That’s because conversion is a necessity for us, since no matter how good we feel we are or how good we have been doing so far, we cannot deny the fact that deep in our heart there is always a fundamental choice we have to make in every step of our life between good and evil, between God and us. And we often make the wrong choice.
We can never over-emphasize this need for our conversion and renewal. In spite of our best intentions and efforts, we somehow would find ourselves in some irregular, imperfect if not completely sinful situation.
If Adam and Eve, our first parents, still in their state of original justice, managed to fall into sin, how much more us who have been born already handicapped and wounded with original sin and exposed to all sorts of temptations and sin in our earthly life.
The Book of Proverbs tells us that “the just man falls seven times, and rises again.” (24,16) And our spiritual warfares are no trivialities, since “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6,12)
If we go to Christ begging for his mercy which he will always give, we will be made new again like a new-born baby. St. Paul tells us as much. “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here.” (2 Cor 5,17)