As a foretaste to Easter, Jesus resurrects Lazarus. This sign explains the revolutionary importance of the novelty that resounds in the world even today: “He that believes in me though he might die, shall live” (cfr. John 11:25). Death is not eradicated–it is overcome.
Second only to the love Jesus had for his mother and Joseph, was the love he had for his brothers and sisters: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Perhaps only one other disciple, John, was on the receiving end of this kind of preferential love. It is no coincidence that Jesus decided to resurrect Lazarus, one of his closest friends. Life flourishes first and foremost because of friendship–life is always about friendship. And the friendship of Christ was born from his passion for man. John describes Jesus’ reaction to the death of his friend this way: “He was moved to the point of tears” (cfr. John 11:38).
Jesus’ emotions in the face of the death of his friend, and the resurrection that followed, are for each one of us a sign that life does not end. Even if we are called to live through illness and death, these circumstances do not have the last word. The last word is the life that He has brought into the world.
Lazarus is resurrected only to die again later. Christ, however, resurrects in order to live forever. In reality, the resurrection of Lazarus foreshadowed the resurrection of the Lord. It is a foretaste of the gift yet to be received. Through resurrection, Jesus wants to help us understand that the gift of his resurrection can transform our lives in the here and now: we can be born again this very instant!
A changed life is the manifestation of His glory among those witnessing the change. What do we need in order to receive this gift? It is an important question. It would be really terrible to hear the announcement of a great gift but yet be unable to receive it. In order to avoid this scenario, we need to live friendship with Jesus like that of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary’s. The kind of friendship that cultivates the gift of faith so as to allow us to be born again, to begin anew at every moment.
We need to experience the resurrection every day. Every moment, despite the trials and tribulations that we might encounter, our “old age” is transformed into youthfulness in which we live out our particular circumstances. Suddenly, we find ourselves becoming more real, more conscious, closer to the events that are the core of life.
The scope of every Christian friendship is to assist in this process of rejuvenation. “We are born old” — Jean Guitton once wrote — “and it takes a lifetime to become young”. This is the reason for fraternity, whatever form it takes. And it is this very youthfulness that makes it possible to live in far-off lands while remaining close to one another. It is this experience that allows distance between persons to mature as a greater awareness of Jesus’ resurrection. This is the only grace that we bring to the people that we meet along the road. People need only one thing: To know that life is not a journey from nothingness to nothingness but instead is given to us by an aware and loving God who is our Father. This Father journeys with us.