Behold this man, Jesus. As he began his ministry, he laid out his platform: to bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed. This mission wasn’t his own invention; he received it, and the strength to fulfill it, from God’s own Spirit.
Behold this Jesus. Look closely at him. All through the weeks of Lent we have been invited to walk with him: to choose as he did in the face of temptation; to listen to him on Mount Tabor; to reach across barriers of gender, culture, and religious law at the Samaritan well and the pool of Siloam. We have witnessed Jesus breaking shackles of shame, exclusion and blindness. Good news indeed.
But today the stakes are set impossibly high. Jesus confronts the power of death itself — death, that holds us all captive, death that oppresses us with fear.
Behold this Jesus. Look at him. Feel with him his conflicting emotions: his good friend Lazarus is gravely ill, yet Jesus delays going to him and his sisters in their need, waiting until Lazarus dies. He receives Martha’s reproach, and weeps with her sister Mary. Jesus is taken aback – “perturbed and deeply troubled”- by the churning pain of grief. He is truly human, like us.
Behold this Jesus. In John’s portrayal, he stands already backlit by the power and glory of God. On Easter Sunday we will see him in the full radiance of Resurrection light. Today we glimpse what that might mean as Jesus summons Lazarus from the tomb. He makes good on the promise God spoke through Ezekiel: “I will open your graves and have you rise from them….I will put my spirit in you that you may live.”
Jesus breaks the bonds of death, the ultimate human dead end. He buries our fears, sorrows, sufferings; he seals up our despair, hopelessness, pain – forever.
The way things always were, is no more. Jesus has opened a new way, a new possibility, a new kind of life. And best of all, it begins here and now.
Behold this Jesus. Let him lead you through the unfolding drama of his passion and death, through the crests and valleys of your own human experience, into the hope of something beyond belief: new life that emerges even out of dead places.
–Sr. Regina Bechtle
Sr. Regina, a retreat leader, speaker, writer and spiritual director, serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York.