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So… first of all, I’m sorry that I’ve been missing for a couple of weeks. I’ve had a Theology paper due and it was a lot of work, as well as a great learning experience. It also made me think a lot about living in the light, instead of living in the darkness.

Lent, in the Catholic faith, is a time to think about light and darkness, life and death. Christ is preparing for His own death and resurrection in the scriptures, while He is teaching us to prepare for the same thing. Today’s readings were about Christ’s call that we die to self and that we live for Him. The Gospel that our priest chose this week (there were two possibilities) was John 11:1-45, the story of Lazarus of Bethany. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead a few days after his death, so that others would see and believe that He has the power over life and death. Jesus calls for Lazarus to come out of his tomb, and tells the others to “Unbind him, and let him go.” To me, much of the lesson in this reading resides in this command, because to have faith in Christ is to give ourselves wholly to him and to be freed of the things of darkness. We know this is true from the examples of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.

Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair (John 11:2). When she was forgiven her sins by Jesus, she knew that He was the Christ, as she confesses in this passage. She anoints his feet with rich oil and wipes them with her hair, even as Simon looks down on her sinful nature. She is free from fear and acts as she knows is right, because Christ’s forgiveness has unbound her from shame. Christ states to Simon, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:48).

Martha is the sister who frets because Mary is sitting at Jesus feet. She freely goes to Him and complains that she has no help serving. Christ gently reminds her that her priorities are wrong. He tells her  “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful.[a] Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41). Martha is freed from her pride and her need to be responsible for everything. She goes to Jesus for help and He gives it to her. She is also the first to confess faith in Jesus as the Christ in the Lazarus story. She knows the truth.

Lazarus is freed from the fear of death. He knows the truth now, that Christ is the Word of Life. He no longer has to fear death because this is only his first resurrection, and he will have life eternal in Heaven, with this friend who loves him.

I know I need to pay attention to all of these lessons. Every day in my life is a gift and I must seek to honor that gift by loving and trusting Christ. Even my sufferings are gifts, because they bring me closer to Christ who loves me so much that He died for me. We need not be afraid of our burdens and sufferings. We need to suffer well by using the lives we are given to grow closer to God and to be more like HIm, so that we will be in Heaven with HIm one day.