|Jacob Epstein's Lazarus at entrance to the chapel at Oxford University|
I think that the real challenge for us is found in the words of Jesus after Lazarus comes out of the tomb. "Untie him,and set him free."(John 11:44).
The image to the left of Lazarus bound in burial cloths brings home the human condition. We are called to life in Christ but we are bound up in many ways, of course our sins, but also negative attitudes and thought patterns, false priorities, prejudices, spiritual blindness, etc.
A first and understandable reaction to this is to say "Yes, dear Lord, I am tied up, bound up, in many ways, help me, set me free." That is, to be sure, an honest prayer. but notice Jesus command is to the community, the family and friends of Lazarus. It is their job to untie him.
For us it is, I believe, important to realize that we are called to untie, unbind, one another. Indeed it is by the grace of God that we do this, but it is our job. The easy part of this is reaching out to one another, to assist those who are tied up by sickness, by poverty, by injustice, etc. The challenge is, however, to help unbind one another by speaking the truths to each other that the person spoken to does not want to hear. I think here, for example, of loving interventions done to confront people with their addictions.
At the present time we are passing through the corona virus crisis, a crisis that is no where near over. Though we are socially distancing, we are nonetheless on human community. This is a time to help untie one another from false attachments to things that aren't really necessary, from blindness to inconvenient truths. Really, if you still think this whole thing is a hoax, wake up!
Though we are passing through difficult times now, they are times, as Pope Francis pointed out in his Urbi et Orbi address last Friday, when we can truly become free and emerge a better nation, a better Church, a better world.
NB. A big thanks to Fr, Kevin Mackin, OFM of my friary community for his homily on Sunday that inspired part of my message.
Also, Here at St. Anthony Friary we have Mass and community prayer everyday because our chapel is private. It is open to our guests but we are not receiving guests at this time. We pray for you every day.