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JN 11: 1-45



Two things struck me while reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel. The first is this: When Jesus saw his grieving friend Martha, who informed him of the death of her brother Lazarus, the Lord asked her: “Do you believe?” Martha, ever faithful friend and follower, replied: Yes, Lord, I believe.


Why did Jesus ask this question? Was it a loyalty check? Was it a test posed to Martha? In special occasions, when Jesus met people and before he performed an extraordinary deed for them, he asked about their belief. For Jesus, it was important that people express their faith. Faith unlocks miracles, while unbelief blinds people to the marvels of God in their lives and in the world.


The great Jesuit writer Anthony de Mello said: “People do not see miracles because they do not expect miracles; expect a miracle and you will see a miracle.” Truly, God is willing to enter our history, our lives, our hearts, to work miracles big and small. If our eyes are wide open in expectation and gratitude, the miracle is always there even if God’s action is not what we expect, even if we do not understand His ways totally. When my friend died of cancer recently, his son said in the eulogy: “We prayed that Daddy would be cancer-free. Now, he is really cancer-free.” It was not easy to accept his father’s death, but it was clear to him that he was now free of pain and sorrow and has returned to the arms of God.


The second amazing thing in the Gospel is this: Martha believed, not for herself, but for her brother. And Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, in plain view of all! It reminded me of the band of friends who brought their paralytic friend to the Lord. It was also the faith of the friends that Jesus felt and appreciated.


There are people who cannot believe yet. There are people who do not believe anymore. There are people who do not know whether they believe or not. And that is why they need the faith of those who are strong in faith. This Lent, perhaps there is a person in your life whose faith is weak or who has stopped believing. Our sacrifices, our prayers, our penances… all these can be offered for these people. God is moved by the sincere love of people for those who are weak and wavering. He answers our prayers in his own way and in his own time.


Let us continue to believe that the Lord can work miracles of transformation in our lives through our Lenten disciplines. Let us not cease to lift up to the Lord those we love who cannot express their faith in him as yet.


#ourparishpriest 2023