Jesus sets us free

Image by Amy Chung

By Vicki Vicars, Mission, Equity & Resilience Dir.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday, the raising of Lazarus, is bursting with imagery and meaning.  We could spend hours unpacking these passages considering so many themes, death, and of course, new life. 

But it is in this passage we hear that Jesus wept; we also hear that he was perturbed. We are not accustomed to hearing that about Jesus. What caught my attention this time was Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” 

Not only was this probably not an easy task, but Martha immediately feared what they will find, the stench of a dead man. One can only imagine her anxiety mixed with the hope that Jesus might yet be able to restore Lazarus. 

By ordering the mourners to remove the stone, Jesus invites them into this act. He certainly and he alone has the power to restore this life, to redeem Lazarus, but the mourners are not simply casual on-lookers. That stone was a barrier to Lazarus’ new life and Jesus invites others to help remove it. 

How often does this happen in our work with one another? And for us here at Ursuline Sisters Mission with the people we serve? Perhaps the barrier is lack of transportation, access to food and housing, low self-esteem, not knowing the English language, undeveloped study skills. Maybe the barrier is even just having a bad day and feeling unproductive.   

How often does it happen even in our own life? How often do we have to face our own barriers and remove them to thrive, to seek wholeness? Do we have the courage to ask someone to assist us  “take away the stone’ that is preventing us from being who we were created to be? What is in our way as we seek fullness of life for one another and for ourselves?

And like Martha, there is often fear. Do we have the resources to assist someone else, what if they refuse or don’t follow through? What if there is another, bigger stone? What will we find if we remove that barrier? Are we even ready for what fullness of life means for us? For others? 

Aside from Martha’s concern, the mourners did what they were asked to do. Lazarus was set free from death, given new life. Our work with Ursuline Sisters Mission so often calls us to set others free from what binds them, to offer them a new way of living and being in the world. 

In this work, we are invited to guide one another from hold us back, to what frees us and brings us joy.