- TAKE OFF THE STONE. Untie him and allow him to walk

Created: Friday, 18 July 2014 Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014

TAKE OFF THE STONE
Untie him and allow him to walk


1. Jesus shares his mission: “Resurrect the dead” (Mt 11, 5). We may collaborate with him. In Lazarus´ passage (Jn 11) we find some symbols and clues that make easier to live the signal of the Gospel: “take off the stone”, to listen the word that says: “Come out”, “untie him and allow him to walk (11, 39-44). The change that the Gospel announces is radical: a step from death to life. Catechumenal and liturgical tradition of the Church has seen in Lazarus´ passage a test useful to revise the faith experience, that appears here in a specific situation: that of a man who dies in the plenitude of life.
2. A grave illness burst in a puzzling way into the circle of Jesus´ intimae  friends, in Betania, in Lazarus´ home. The sisters sent to tell him: “Lord, that one whom you love, is ill”. When Jesus herd it, he said: “This illness is not for death; it is for God´s glory, so that the son of God is glorified in it”. In the Bible the interest not only goes with the cause of the illness and how to heal it, but also with its meaning. Which is its sense?, what can god do with this illness?, is it for death or for God´s glory?
3. Jesus lover Mary, her sister and Lazarus. Nevertheless, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. He should have something to do there or perhaps he had to think it over, to pray and to discern. Two days later, he says to his disciples: “Let´s go back again the Judea” To go back to Judea was to go into the lion’s  den. The disciples tell him: “A few days ago the Jews wanted to stone you, and you go back there? But Jesus is clear about it: “If anyone walks in day light, he does not bumps, because he sees the light of this world.”
4. Little by little Jesus uncovers his intention: “:Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I will go to awake him up”. The disciples do not understand, they need Jesus to tell it clearly: “Lazarus has died, and I am glad for you of not having been there, so that you may believe”. For Jesus the death is a sleeping from which it is possible to be awaken. Now well, how does Jesus find out that Lazarus had died? Why this mysterious communion or communication? In any case, he is glad of not having been there: the delay has a sense. And the decision is taken: “Let´s go where he is”. The disciples still did not find out the life that Jesus announces, the life that defeats the death, the resurrection as a awakening. What they have clear is the risk they run: “Let´s also go to die with him”
5. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already  been in the sepulchre for four days. As a measure of caution, Jesus does not approach the house. Many Jews, who had come to console the sister, had it occupied. Betania is near Jerusalem, about 3 kms. When Marta knew that Jesus had come, he went to meet him and she told him: “Lord, if you had been here, may brother wouldn’t die”. Marta reproaches Jesus. She is convinced that if he had been there, Jesus wouldn’t allow Lazarus to die. Nevertheless, she knows that anything he request God, God shall give him.
6. Jesus tells her: “Your brother shall resurrect”. Mary answers: “I know he shall resurrect in the last day”. Marta knows what she has been taught and, in truth, it does not console her much: the last day, at the end of history. Jesus replays: “I am the resurrection and the life. That one who believes in me, although he dies he shall live; and anyone who lives and believes in me, he never shall dis. Do you believe this?”. There is a difference between what Marta already knows and what Jesus announces to her. He is, in present, the resurrection and the life. The question is also addressed to us: Do you believe this?. Marta answers with a faith general confession: “I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God, that who should come to the world”
7. Martha goes to call his sister Mary and she tells her in the ear (again, the measure of caution): “The master is there and he is calling you”. Mary stands up immediately and goes to meet him, Nevertheless, the Jews follow her (the measure of caution falls down) thinking that she was going to the sepulchre to cry there: In these cases, what do we do? Do we go to meet the Lord, who is the resurrection, or do we go to the sepulchre to cry there?
8. Mary repeats to Jesus the familiar position: “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have die”. As he were lacking words, Jesus began to cry. He also was affected by Lazarus´ death. Says Jesus: “Where have you placed him?” They answer him: “Lord, come and you shall see him”. The Jews were saying: “Look how much he loved him”. But some of them said: “This, who opened the eyes to the blind man, couldn’t have made him not to die”. The opposition was present. Jesus moved again and he went to the sepulchre.
9. Jesus says: “Take off the stone”. The stone separates definitively those living from the death. Besides, the death weighs like a slab: nobody talks about this. But, let’s see, what does it mean in each case to take off the stone?. In the exile Israel’s people is a field of dry bones. Well then, it is said to them “Dry bones, let you listen Lord’s word… I here open your tombs; I shall oblige you to come out of your toms, my people, and I shall take you again to the floor of Israel” (Ez 37, 4-12; see Is 49, 9). In this case, to come back home is to resurrect. For Saint Agustin, “if you do not believe, although you were among those alive, you are dead”. He proves it in this way: “To someone who delayed to follow the Lord, saying that he should before go to bury his father, he answered: Leave the dead men to bury their dead persons” (About Saint John´s evangel, 49, 15). Now then, if we are talking about the physical death, what does it mean to resurrect? The revival of a corpse (return to this life) or, even better, the life that Jesus announces (further to the death)? The family resists itself, because “it smells, is the fourth day”, because it hurts… Nevertheless, it is necessary to believe to see the glory of God. Here, that one who does not believe, he does not see.
10. “They, then, took off the stone”. Jesus thanks the father for having listened him (see Ps 138). He knows that He always listen to him, but he says it for the benefit of those around him, so that they believe that God has sent him. Jesus shouted with a strong voice: “Lazarus, come out!”. And the dead man came out, tied in feet and hands with bandage and wrapped by a shroud. Jesus tells them: “Untie him and let him walk!”. Jesus proclaims a strong word, a word that resurrects the dead persons, a present word, such as him had announced: “The time arrives (we already are in it) in which the dead persons will listen the voice of the son of God and those who hear it shall live” (Jn 5, 25). All the others ought to remove difficulties, to take off the dress to the dead person, to allow him to walk. At his own manner, the resurrect walks too (Lk 24, 15).
11. Many Jews believed in Jesus. But some, as it was foreseeable, “were where the Pharisees and told them what had happened”. The High Priests and the Pharisees convened council. Obviously, they do not believe in the signals that Jesus makes, but they see that they catch like powder on the people: “If we allow him to follow like this, everybody will believe in him and the Romans will come and they will destroy our holly place and our nation”. Or rather, the political pact they have with the empire will break. At the bottom, they see the safety of the Temple and the safety of the State menaced: “From that day on they decided to kill him. That was the reason for what Jesus did not walk among the Jews” (Jn 11, 53).
12. Six days before the Pasch, Jesus went anonymously to Bethany: “They give him a dinner there” (12, 2). Lazarus “was with him at the table”. In his way, the resurrected also has dinner (Lk 24, 30). The mourning  became a feast (Is 61, 3). And the reproach became waste: “Mary, taking a pound of pure nard perfume, very expensive, anointed Jesus´ feet and dried them with her hair. And the house filled up of the perfume’s smell” For Judas, that who ought to deliver him, it was an absurd expenditure. That perfume could have been sold in three hundred denary and give it to the poor. For Jesus the anointment of Bethany has an air of farewell: “Let her to keep it for the day of my burial. Because you will have always the poor with you; but you will not have me for ever”. Many Jews “knew that Jesus was there and they went not only for Jesus, but also to see Lazarus”. He Highest Priests decided to kill Lazarus too (12, 10). But, is it perhaps possible to kill a resurrected man? “They cannot die anymore”, says Jesus (Lk 20, 36).
* Dialogue: Do you believe this? Have you seen the glory of God?