Summary: Jesus calls us out of our ruts and wakes us from behind the wheels of our dead lives to a new life just as he called Lazarus from the tomb.
Every day we are confronted with instances that make us question our life. For some it is being confronted by the boss, for others it is dealing with family. It can be not doing well in school or friendship which have taken a sour tone.
When things go bad in our life we very often turn immediately to God. Just like in today’s Gospel when Martha and Mary ran to Jesus and said “Lord, if you would have been here…” this never would have happened. We say , God if only you had been present in that staff meeting, I would never have gotten shot down like I did. Lord, if only you had been around for my test, I would have passed with flying colors. How strange it is that we tend to think God is not present in our lives when things are moving along normally. It takes the shock of things going wrong in our lives sometimes to jar us, to wake us up, to make us realize that we have become caught in a rut. When things go so wrong that we are jolted from our everyday life, we may also feel like we just want to curl up and die. O.k., maybe it is not always that extreme, but a bad day can at least bring on a strong urge to go to bed and hide.
Jesus says to us the same thing that he said to Martha and Mary. I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, they will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
So what does it mean to live with Jesus? How is it possible to live even though we die and What is it to live and believe and not know death? Is Jesus speaking in riddles? No.
But It is hard to understand life without first understanding death. There is the physical death, when we stop breathing and our heart stops beating. This is usually the first thing that comes to minds when we think of death. Images pop up of being by the bedside of a loved one, or attending a funeral, or visiting a wake. We think of cemeteries and memorial flowers and dedications. But there is another kind of death, the death that happens when we find ourselves going through the motions of life. There is emotional and spiritual death that creeps up on us without our knowing. Our bodies continue to function, but we are leading a life of death.
A Modern day example of this is found In the movie Groundhog’s day. Bill Murray finds that he is stuck repeating the same day over and over again. At first, he is very frustrated and thinks he is going to go insane. No matter what he does he cannot affect or change the events of the day. Then he goes through a period of resignation. He simply goes through the motions with helpless and hopeless, knowing that nothing he does makes any difference. Then, towards the end, he decides to use his time for new skills, he masters the piano and he learns another language. He pursues a young woman, and eventually falls in love. Soon thereafter, he wakes up to find that time has moved on, and it is February 3rd, the day after Groundhog’s Day.
The Movie Groundhog’s day is a comedy, but art imitates life, and I’m sure that there are times in our lives when we roll out of bed and realize that we are repeating the same situation over and over again. Our job can frustrate us because there isn’t anything novel, nothing is new, nothing to be discovered. We face the same challenges, day in and day out. Nothing we do can change the fact that there will always be dirty diapers, or a deadline to meet, board meeting, or endless voice mail and email. It is frustrating. We become trapped.
Yet at other times we find ourselves to be asleep at the wheel. We roll through one day and into the next with only a vague impression of what has transpired in between. We hardly even read the emails or listen to the boss because we know that it doesn’t make a difference. Instead of being frustrated we are simply indifferent.
At other times we don’t realize how dead we are. We can find ourselves sitting at our desk, or operating our equipment, or learning in a classroom and we feel neither frustrated nor indifferent. It’s not like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon, mumbling words that we can’t understand. Instead we understand perfectly the Jargon that is being put out. We are quite content with our work. We consider it a good day to operate the same equipment day after day without change, without conflict, without variation.