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Year of Mary
October1, 2022 to December 8, 2023

Fr Bill

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    How do you feel when it seems like God does not answer your prayer? Today’s Gospel begins with an earnest prayer: “The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying ‘Master, the one you love is ill.’” Jesus does not promptly respond. Rather he waits two days, and in the meantime Lazarus dies.

    Imagine the feelings and thoughts going through the hearts and minds of the sisters. They wait in expectation for their friend, yet he delays. They are disappointed when their brother dies. They have no way of understanding why Jesus didn’t come. We sympathize with them, since each of us have had the experience of earnestly imploring the Lord and not receiving the response for which we hoped.

    The Lord could cure Lazarus. He is not apathetic to the prayers of his friends. He cares for Lazarus. It would be good to heal Lazarus, but Jesus has something even greater in mind. This is a principle of our relationship with God. God is not satisfied to give us something that is “merely good,” nor will he settle for giving us something better. He will only be satisfied to give us the BEST.

    There are two responses to the unanswered prayer of Martha and Mary. First we see that Martha and Mary express Faith and Trust in the Lord, even though their prayer seems unanswered. They are confident that Jesus has the power to heal. They trust that even though their brother has died, he will rise on the last day. The other response is that of the crowds, who sneer and deride, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

    It is a much greater miracle to raise someone from the dead than it is to cure an illness. So Jesus, who by his tears, shows that he is not indifferent to our grief, goes to the tomb, and calls Lazarus from the domain of death back to the land of the living. “Lazarus, come out!” Martha and Mary asked the Lord for something good, the healing of their brother. The Lord provided something even greater, that he was raised from the dead. But this is not yet the best.

    If Jesus had merely cured Lazarus, the miracle would have been merely private, known only to those who already believed that he was the Messiah and the Resurrection. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus not only affirms the faith of Martha and Mary, and his disciples, but everyone who witnessed this miracle began to believe in Christ. The community of Faith was expanded. Although Lazarus was raised to life here on earth, he will die another earthly death. There is a great life that Jesus wishes to give us. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die,” says the Lord.

    God will never settle for giving us what is “merely good.” But often what we ask for in prayer falls far short of the best that God wants to give us. So we offer prayers, but God seems to respond with silence and delay. Yet, in reality he is deepening our hope and drawing us deeper in faith that the holy desires of our heart may begin to yearn for the great graces that he wishes to give to us. This type of prayer requires us to imitate the FAITH and TRUST of Martha and Mary, rather than the sneering of the crowds. How do you respond?

Blessings, Father Bill