Homilist Fr. John Sandell, preaching on this Sunday’s Gospel (John 11: 1-45), reminds us that just about all the people involved keep telling Jesus he was going about things all wrong. From apostles to friends he was a disappointment.

Martha and Mary send word that Lazarus is sick, come now. He is a no-show. Two days later Jesus says “let us go and visit Lazarus.” The apostles say “No! It’s too dangerous.” Jesus says “Lazarus needs me.” The apostles say “No he doesn’t, he’ll get better on his own.” Jesus tells them “He is already dead, let’s go now.” Strangely enough, Thomas, the Doubter, is the first to tell the others “we will be most likely killed, but let’s go anyway.”

When Jesus arrives at Bethany, Martha is there to let him know that he is too late; he should have come earlier, her brother is dead. They go to the tomb and Mary says “You’re too late. You should have come sooner. If you had done it my way, all would be fine.”

Now at the tomb, Jesus instructed some of the men to move the stone from the tomb. Again, Martha tells him he is doing it wrong. “Four days in the tomb will create quite a stench.”

What was wrong? Was Jesus wrong?

Once they stopped trying to write the script and simply see as God sees, and dare to trust, all they thought was bad becomes good, in a life lived on God’s terms. Their “way of doing things” doesn’t give them the future, it only keeps them bound to the past. The only tragedy here would be for them to hold on to the past, and shut themselves off from eternity.

What Jesus said to Lazarus as he came forth from the tomb, “Untie him,” he says to all of us who feel frightened, oppressed, trapped: “Untie them, let them go free.” Even as we “stay-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” we are free in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

Fr. Paul