Second Sunday of Easter

Second Sunday of Easter – A – 14

Acts.2:42-47, 1Peter.1:3-9, Jn.20:19-31

There is a Spanish story about a father and son who had become estranged after years of bitter strife. The son finally ran away. Finding that his son was missing, the Father became heartbroken and set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort, the father placed an advertisement in the city newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the bell tower in the plaza at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” That Saturday eighty Pacos men and boys showed up in the plaza, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is: “All is forgiven. I love you!” The message of mercy is that God loves us – all of us – no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that his mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus all will come to share His joy. It is a message we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.

A – Ask for His mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking him to pour out His Mercy upon us and upon the whole world. B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

Today’s gospel passage presents to us two appearances of the Risen Lord to His apostles and disciples: first, without Thomas and then a week after with St. Thomas already. He shows them His wounds so that there would be no doubt who He is or what have happened to Him. He greets them the same way I greeted you at the beginning of the Mass: “Peace be with you.” Jesus breathes on His disciples and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

At confirmation, the bishop or the priest delegated by the bishop makes the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead (as we had yesterday) with chrism saying: “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” So, we who have been confirmed have received exactly what Jesus’ original disciples received. A week after which is the second appearance, this deals now with the doubting Thomas who is not present with the rest of the apostles when Jesus appears among them.

He has his own preconceived ideas of what God was like; a complex person of courage, ignorance, doubt and faith. That is why this Second Sunday of Easter is called the Doubting Thomas Sunday because the gospel that we use every year during this Sunday is about Thomas who doubted about the resurrection of Jesus when his companions told him about the event.

St. Thomas said: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and that my finger into the nail marks and put my hands into His side, I will not believe,” (v.25). In other words, a firsthand experience or ‘to see is to believe.’ Anyway, after Jesus’ resurrection, St. Thomas has another characteristic that we should learn.

The first is he left the group. We shall not do what he did. What he did was he left the group. The other ten, even if they are sad of the death of Jesus, banded together except St. Thomas. He detached himself from the group. That is why when Jesus appeared to the group, St. Thomas was not able to enjoy Christ’s presence. So, when we are sad or are discouraged of our church leaders and other groups, we should not detach ourselves from the Christian community, the church.

The presence of Christ always comes within our Christian community. It is because He says: “Where two or three are gathered in my name I am in their midst.” I was the Principal of our own school for 12 years. I worked mostly among the little children of 5year to 17year old in the school. Every day I visit the children in the lunchroom and on the playground. I can say that one could divide the children into two groups: the Huggers and Hiders.

When I walked into the lunchroom, for example, immediately the huggers would invite you to have lunch with them and speak to you feely. Then there are the hiders, those children who went out of their way and avoid me. When I walked out into the playground, for example, the hiders ran away from me. Their flight is often caused by a guilty conscience. Chances were the hiders are those kids who just spoke in their mother tongue or stole someone’s ball, just said a bad word or just gave another kid a big shove.

Calmly and patiently, I sought out these hiders, saying: “I want these kids to see me as someone who cares for them, not as someone they see only when they are in trouble.” How about when it comes to our relationship with God, are we not huggers and hiders too? Some days we are huggers who run eagerly to God’s arms. But there are other days, we are hiders and fearfully run away from God. But God always seeks us patiently and lovingly. St. John of the Cross said: “If we are seeking God, our Beloved God is seeking us much more.”

The second thing is St. Thomas was sincere that he really doubted the resurrection of Jesus. Doubt is a part of life and it is okay. Who among us can tell that we do not doubt? All of us doubt. But let us use our doubts to inform ourselves about what bothers us. St. Thomas did not understand what was happening, so he did not presume that he knew everything. He could not grasp it fully that a person died and came back to life.

He taught us a lesson that if we do not understand, then, let us humbly, honestly and sincerely accept the fact that we do not know and understand, so we ask others to explain it to us. At the end he just said: “My Lord and my God!”

The last thing that we can learn from St. Thomas is after he knew and understood that great event he went all the way even unto death in following Jesus Christ. He had given himself totally and completely. He had offered himself to God not just ten percent of it but a hundred percent. I hope that when everything becomes clear to us, we can also give ourselves to the Lord all the way. And also if there is no God and we die, nothing would change. But, if there is a God and we die, we better hope that we live like there is a God.

Let us repeat within ourselves the words of St. Thomas: “My Lord and my God.” And after saying it, let us live these words in our lives. Let us accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy. One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive Divine Mercy.

The Gospel command, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” demands that we show mercy to our fellow human beings always and everywhere.  We radiate God’s mercy to others by our actions, our words, and our prayers. Like St. Thomas, let us use our skepticism to help us grow in faith.  It is our genuine doubts about the doctrines of our religion that encourage us to study these doctrines more closely and thus to grow in our Faith.

This will naturally lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus through our prayer, study of the Word of God, and frequenting of the Sacraments.  However, we must never forget the fact that our Faith is not our own doing, but is a gift from God.  Hence, we need to augment our Faith every day by prayer so that we may join St. Thomas in his proclamation: “My Lord and my God.” Amen.

 

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Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday – 14

Acts10:34a, 37-43, Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor 5:6b-8, Jn.20:1-9

Wish you all a Happy Easter! May the Risen Lord Bless you all!

Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, “Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone to be buried in?” “Why not?” Joseph may have answered. He only needed it for the weekend.”

Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. It marks the birthday of our eternal hope. “Easter” literally means “the feast of fresh flowers.” We celebrate it with pride and jubilation for three reasons:

1) The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian faith. The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles – it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins…

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (ICor.15: 14, 17 & 20). If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then the Church is a fraud and faith is a sham. But if he really did rise from the dead, his message is true!

Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained forever a good person who had met a tragic end. People would remember some of his teachings, and a handful of people might try to live according to them. All the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of the Resurrection. “Jesus is Lord; He is risen” (Rom 10: 9) was the central theme of the Kerygma (or “preaching”), of the apostles.

2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies” (Jn.11: 25-26). Christ will raise us up on the last day, but it is also true, in a sense, that we have already risen with Christ. By virtue of the Holy Spirit, our Christian life is already a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ (C.C.C. #1002, #1003).

3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers.

Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears. The prayer of St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland reads: “Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ within me, never to part.”

Easter reminds us of an empty tomb! Today’s gospel does not present us with risen Jesus. Instead, it presents us with the empty tomb! In the Gospel the angel says: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!” (Lk.24:5-6) This empty tomb means that Jesus is risen and is living among us and we should not look for Him among the dead.

Unfortunately, you and I look for life in things that have no life in them. We turn to money, war, power and using things such as alcohol and drugs. We never find love, joy and peace in these things – instead we become spiritually empty tombs! Yet we continue trying these things in the hope that they will give comfort and peace.

Easter breaks that feverish human cycle of searching for life in things that are dead. Easter calls us to shed the old life and accept new life. Easter calls us to get out of the tomb of selfishness, greed, prejudice, addiction and hostility. Easter invites us to get out of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust and to accept a new heart, new birth and a new person. You and I get a new life after each Easter.

Try it for yourself as you leave here today. Believe in the “new life” shed the old. Start with yourself, now spread this joy to your family, to your friend, to your workplace, and to the world.

Easter, the feast of the resurrection, gives us also the joyful message that we are a “resurrection people.” This means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions. It gives us the good news that no tomb can hold us down anymore – not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death.

Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the resurrected Lord in all the events of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Ps. 118:24). Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday, and that Jesus will let us share the power of his resurrection.

Each time we display our love of others, we share in the resurrection. Each time we face a betrayal of trust, we share in the resurrection of Jesus. Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the resurrection. Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ resurrection.

In short, the message of Easter is that nothing can destroy us – not pain, sin, rejection nor death – because Christ has conquered all these, and we too can conquer them if we put our faith in Him.

We need to seek our peace and joy in the Risen Jesus:  The living presence of the Risen Lord gives us lasting peace and celestial joy in the face of the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life.  “Peace be with you!” was His salutation to His disciples at all post-Resurrection appearances.  For the true Christian, every day must be an Easter Day, lived joyfully in the close company of the Risen Lord. Amen.

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Is.52:13-53:12, Heb.4:14-16; 5:7-9, Jn.18:1-19:42

“It was the best of times and the worst of times” is how Dickens opens his book, A Tale of Two Cities. The readings for today’s service are a tale of two kingdoms. The First and Second Readings for this liturgy speak of two heroes who let go of former identities to become Servants of Suffering. They leave the familiar and obediently surrender to a suffering state of service.

The Gospel is an account of Jesus being both at his best and worst. The worst part is his sense of having lost, having been stripped of his dignity and purpose, his companions abandon him, and his sense of his Father’s abiding care seems to be gone. He is a loser and what he came to do remain undone. There is no cheering, but sneering. There are no companions, but many on-lookers accompany him to the end of his heroic journey.

The best of times for Jesus is his staying faithful to who he knows he is. Perhaps that is the central characteristic of a hero. The triumph is self-reception over self-deception. We are encouraged in this liturgy to take up our heroic lives, becoming servants of the Word which we hear and the Holy Bread he gives for our continuing the listening to his call. We too will go through the worst of times and yet the best of times will be what we receive for the sharing.

In the middle of all these realities we know that Good Friday is all about the transforming power of suffering love. Jesus took away sin by absorbing and transforming sin. How? The image we can use is a water filter. A filter takes in impure water, holds the impurities inside of it and gives back only pure water. It transforms rather than transmits.

We see this in Jesus. Like the ultimate cleansing filter he purifies life itself. He takes in hatred, holds it, transforms it, and gives back love; he takes in ridicule and murder, holds them, transforms them, and gives back only forgiveness. And doing this, Jesus doesn’t want admirers but imitators. He doesn’t want fans, but followers.

The garden of Gethsemane invites every one of us to help absorb, purify and transform tension and sin rather than simply transmit them. Such is the love of God for us revealed in Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Yes it was an undying love.” Are you worth dying for? Is someone willing to die for you? The answer to these two questions is: Yes. You are worth dying for and somebody has died for you!

Today, let us take time to say thanks to Jesus who was crucified, suffered and died for us. Let not this day end without saying our personal and sincere gratitude to the Lord. The first Good Friday was not good at all. It was bad, very bad for it was a day when an innocent man was tortured to the max before He was crucified.

Let us make today’s Good Friday really and truly good by being good and by doing good. Good Friday was not some Friday that happened some 2,000 years ago. Good Friday is today and everyday when we remember with gratitude Jesus’ personal love for us and respond to this love by living a good life that overflows into love of others, especially the “little ones.”

Good Friday is not a day of sadness or cry but it is the day of Victory. It is the day of salvation. It is the day of fulfillment. So thank Him and wish your neighbor a Happy Good Friday. Amen.

 

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – 14
Is.50:4-7, Phil.2:6-11, Matt.26:14-27:66 or 27:11-54

Story: It was Palm Sunday and, because of a sore throat, five-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a bay-sitter. When the family returned from church holding several palm branches, the little boy was curious and asked why do you have that palm branch? Dad said to him, “You see when Jesus came into town, everyone waved Palm Branches to honor him, and so we got Palm Branches today.” The little boy replied,
“What a shame! The one Sunday I miss, is the Sunday that Jesus shows up!”

Today we enter into Holy Week. The week is made holy by its celebration of Jesus’ gift of himself to us and for us. Wednesday, we remember his betrayal. Thursday is a celebration of the gift of the Eucharist and a reflection on the example of service Jesus gives to us. Friday is “Good” because we truly remember how much he loved us – even with his death on the cross.

Saturday we are without a liturgy and are awaiting the nighttime celebration of the Resurrection, which is his and is now ours. And, so, we begin this week with the reading of the whole Passion story – this year, it is Matthew’s version. It is all so big and so full of meaning that we need to step back personally and focus on a few things, so that we don’t let it just get by us so quickly.

The theme for today’s celebration is: Your attitude must be Christ’s. When we talk about attitude, we also talk about people and who they are, because attitude is inseparable from people. Just like what happen in today’s gospel. When the people saw hope that Jesus would lead them to liberation, they shouted: “Hosanna!” But when they saw that Jesus wouldn’t follow their expectations, they shouted: “Crucify Him!” Attitude could not exist without the people and we could not have the knowledge of people without their attitude. Someone says that what you say and do is what you are.

Actually, there are eight types of people with their respective attitudes:

First, people are like wheelbarrows. They don’t go anywhere unless pushed. They are the people who lack initiative, dependent, and no plan for their lives. They are the easy-go-lucky people.

Second, some are like canoes. They need to be paddled. If you do not tell them what to do, they are immobile. You must be always in her/his side to remind or to monitor this person.

Third, some are like kites. You must keep a string on them or else they fly away. Just like the rat, when the cat is away, it goes its way.

Fourth, some are like kittens. They are contented when they are petted and patted. There are some people who need to be appreciated always every time they perform a work. If we cannot, they are discouraged or in other words, attention-seeker.

Fifth, others resemble footballs, no way to tell which way they will bounce next.
Sixth, some are like balloons. They are full of air and ready to blow up. They only see the mistakes in others.

Seventh, some are like neon lights. They flash on and off.

Eighth, there are those few who are like good watches open face, pure gold, quietly busy and full of good works. They are the people who work without expecting any payment or return. They just work and participate without string attach. Just for the greater glory of God.

What are we going to do with the remaining seven types? Even though, how bad a man is, there’s still a spark of goodness found in him which if it can be fanned by the grace of God, it will become a salvation. What we are going to do is to encourage them and to correct even if they don’t listen to us. This is our human nature that we should encourage them to be better persons and not teach them to be bitter. This is the type of attitude that we should develop. Can we do this?

“Who do people say I am?” He once asked. How could they know who he was? They didn’t know who they themselves were. A crowd are, not a community; they have no lasting purpose, they hardly even know one another; but somehow they are able to energize one another for the worse.  At his birth the angels sang, “Peace on earth!”  Here he is, near the end of his life, at the mercy of a mindless mob screaming for his blood.

His life has been called “the greatest story ever told.” It is not only the story of Jesus; it is also the story of the world. It is the two together forming a single story. He is one of us, he was born here, and he walked our streets. This is how our world deals with such a person. The death of Jesus reveals many things: the incorruptibility of his spirit, the depth of his love and forgiveness, the reality of his relationship with the Father; it also reveals the barbarity, legal and illegal, that ordinary human beings are capable of.  

It shows us “the light of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ” (2Cor.4:7); it also reveals the ugly face of humanity. It is a double revelation. Is there any hope for our world?  Look again.  He is one of us.  He called us brothers and sisters. We know we are capable of the worst, but by being one of us he makes us capable of integrity, love, forgiveness…. We are a crowd, but we can be a new community. It is a double revelation. He showed up the weakness of power – and revealed the power hidden in weakness.

What God expects from us today is gratitude, an attitude of gratitude – gratitude strong enough to make us hate sin of every shade and color; strong enough to make us translate our love of God into love of all God’s people. Amen.
 

5th Sunday of Lent, Year – A

5th Sunday of Lent, Year – A

Ezek. 37:12-4; Rom. 8:8-11; Jn. 11:1-45 OR Jn. 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

On the outskirts of town, there was a big old pecan tree by the cemetery fence. One day two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts. “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me,” said one boy. As they were sharing the nuts, two nuts dropped and rolled down towards the fence.

Another boy came, riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you and one for me.” He just knew what it was. “Oh my,” he shuddered, “it’s Satan and the Lord dividing the souls at the cemetery.

He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along. “Come here quick,” said the boy, “you won’t believe what I heard. Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls.” The man said, “Beat it, kid, can’t you see it’s hard for me to walk.” When the boy insisted, the man hobbled to the cemetery. Standing by the fence they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for, me.”

The man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been telling the truth. Let’s see if we can see the devil himself.” Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of Satan. At last they heard, “One for you, one for me. And one last one for you. That’s all. Now let’s go get those two nuts by the fence, and we’ll be done.”  They say the old guy made it back to town five minutes before the boy.

Why death is so frightening? In fact, death is the way towards eternal life. This is what we believe. This is what our gospel is telling us today. We do not celebrate death. What we celebrate is life. Even in funeral masses, we are celebrating life and not death. Last Sunday’s gospel reading was about light and darkness; today’s is about life and death.  We can expect a similar paradoxical treatment of them from John.

It was dangerous for Jesus to go to Judea again; the authorities were determined to seize him.  When he decided nevertheless to go there, Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  So Jesus faced death to give life to Lazarus. This is John showing us the meaning of Jesus’ life, or applying the first brush-stroke in this scene.

Life or death is not a paradox; the paradox is life in death.  And that is what we are going to see in this scene. To make it quite clear that we are not dealing with the first but with the second, Lazarus has been unmistakably dead for four days.

We spend our life trying to avoid even the thought of death.  When we do think about it we think thoughts like: “it will defeat me utterly; it will destroy everything I tried to do.” The ‘enemy’, then, is not only out there; it is now the enemy within.

This is not the way a Christian thinks about death. The death of Christ shapes our consciousness of death. St Paul wrote that we are “baptized into his death” (Rom.6:3). The word ‘baptized’ means ‘plunged’. “By baptism we have been buried with him into death.” This is not running away from death and the thought of death. It seems more like running towards it.

Why? It is because, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” The place of death is the place of resurrection. The resurrection is not an alternative to death; rather it is in death that resurrection is to be found. We are delivered from the crippling fear of death and of everything that reminds us of it. This frees us to live.

“Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” (Jn.11:25) Brothers and sisters in Christ, death shall not hold captive those who believe in the Lord Jesus. Praise God for the gift of life! In other words we have to die in order to have life. We have to die to our sins in order to be forgiven. We have to die of our vices in order to be good and responsible person. We have to die to our anger and hatred in order to make our relationship with the other becomes better and many more.

Death is sacrifice. Death is conversion. Death is change. Of all the miracles Jesus did, the raising of Lazarus ranks as the most astonishing to the people of his time. Traditional Jewish belief had it that the soul of a dead person somehow remains with the body for three days. After three days the soul departs finally from the body never to return, and that is when corruption sets in.

When Martha objects to the opening of the tomb and says, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days” (Jn.11:39), she is expressing the common view that this is now a hopeless situation. Is that why Jesus delayed coming to the funeral, to let the situation become “impossible” before acting on it? G.K. Chesterton once said, “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.”

To effect the miracle, Jesus issues three commands and all of them are obeyed to the letter. That is how the miracle happens. First, “Jesus said, ‘roll away the stone. So they rolled away the stone.” Did the people understand why they should do this heavy work of rolling away the tombstone to expose a stinking corpse?

You bet they didn’t. But it was their faith in Jesus through practical agreement with him, through obedience. Why didn’t Jesus command the stone to roll away all by itself, without bothering the people? We don’t quite know. All we know is that divine power seems always to be activated by human cooperation.

The second command Jesus gives, is directed to the dead man: ‘Lazarus, come out!’ and the dead man came out.” We do not know the details of what transpired in the tomb. All we know is that Jesus’ word of command is followed by immediate obedience.

The third command again is addressed to the people, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Even though Lazarus could stumble himself out of the tomb, there was no way he could unbind himself. He needs the community to do that for him. By unbinding Lazarus and setting him free from the death bands, the community is accepting Lazarus back as one of them.

You and me as individuals and communities today have fallen victim to the death of sin. Many of us are already in the tomb of hopelessness and decay, in the bondage of sinful habits and attitudes. Nothing short of a miracle can bring us back to life in Christ. Jesus is ready for the miracle. He himself said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jn.10:10)

Are we ready to cooperate with Jesus for the miracle? Are we ready to roll away the stone that stands between us and the light of Christ’s face? Are we ready to take the first step to come out of the place of death? Are we ready to unbind (i.e. forgive) one another and let them go free? These are the various ways we cooperate with God in the miracle of bringing renewal and revival in us as individuals, as a church, and a nation.

Let us take the 2nd command of Jesus, “Lazarus, come out!” for our prayer. When we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus will call our name and command, “Come out!” Jesus calls each of us by name to come out of our graves and to help others to do the same.  “Lazarus, come out!   Mary, come out!   Jim and Joe, Kathy and Lisa, come out!”

This is particularly good news to someone who is addicted, whether to a chemical substance or to unsavory habits. “Lazarus, come out!” This is good news for the person who has lived an empty, meaningless life, “Lazarus, come out!” This is good news for the tired, the hurting, and the person at his or her wit’s end. “Lazarus, come out!” This is good news for all of us, “Lazarus, come out!” This can be the beginning of a new life. Amen.