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This Lent, we are reflecting on the gospel according to John for three Sundays. Today is the last of the three installments. And there is something very attractive in this gospel about the raising of Lazarus.  The gospel makes it clear that Jesus was so close to this family. Jesus had friends. And Jesus loves his friends so much! Isn’t that amazing? We mostly think of Jesus having the twelve apostles with him and seriously proclaiming and healing around Israel. We rarely pause to think that Jesus formed friendships and how he enjoyed them!

But this also is the big mystery. If Jesus loved his friend, especially Lazarus, why did he allow him to die? Why did he not come earlier, as Martha seems to say to Jesus in a rebuking tone? He healed many others, why did he not heal Lazarus when he was sick?

It is precisely that Jesus loved Lazarus that he allowed Lazarus to die. Death is the ultimate test of faith. Jesus wanted to make Lazarus and his family strong in the face of death. In the past two weeks, we have been dealing with faith. The Samaritan woman symbolizes those who have no faith yet in Jesus. The blind man represents those whose faith is still new, incipient, just starting little by little. Lazarus embodies those who have faith but must struggle until the end to embrace it.

Who of us is not afraid of death? Even the bravest man when he nears death experiences an inner tremble. Even the saints struggled at the moment of death because death shakes up all we hold dear to our hearts. What if there is no God? What if there is nothing after this life? And we would not want to go where there is no assurance of peace and life.

Jesus allowed Lazarus to die so that he can manifest his power over death. Truly, all those who believe in him will never die. That means, they will conquer death just as Lazarus did, but most importantly because of the power of Jesus. This Lent we reflect on our baptism. Do you know that baptism means sharing in the death of Jesus so that we can share in his new life? Lent is a reflection on life in Christ but also on dying with with him. Let us spend some time this week to ask ourselves if we are willing to die in the arms of the Lord so that we can experience his embrace in heaven.