Purpose: After raising Lazarus, Jesus commands his disciples to “Untie him and let him go.” Jesus sends people into our lives to untie us.
There’s a new iphone app called Confession a Roman Catholic App. It’s a great application that allows users to not only prepare for
confession, but walk them through it. I know that some people are afraid to go to confession because they are not sure what to do. This app can help. Although I assure you, if you walk into a confessional and say “Father, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to confession and I don’t even know how to do this” the priest will be glad to help you out. We, like the good shepherd and the prodigal father rejoice when someone comes home.
One of the most difficult things in life seems to be letting others help us. Whether it be helping us with something simple like putting on our coat, carrying some boxes, bandaging a wound. It may be something much more difficult like helping us to overcome an addiction, grieve the loss of a loved one, or rely on the care of others as we age.
A great blessing that we have in our society is the availability of support groups. There are support groups for addictions, alcoholism, abuse, cancer, divorce, mental illness, grief, sexual addictions, and just about any other problem that we may struggle with. The idea behind them is that we are not alone in our suffering.
Another is counseling. This is something that people dread. A common response is, “I’m not going to go to someone I don’t know and tell them all of my personal problems. What do they know about what’s good for me?” Or the big denial statements, “I don’t have a problem” or “I don’t need any help.” Perhaps, but if what you are doing isn’t getting you unbound maybe there is someone that could help you do what you can’t do on your own.
And finally, what’s most often feared? Confession. “Why do I need to go to a priest to confess my sins? I talk to God all the time.”
The truth is God sends people into our lives to “untie” us when we can’t do it ourselves. The readings for this Fifth Sunday of Lent deal with some very heavy material:
“I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” Ezekiel 37:12
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice!” Psalm 130
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8
“The one you love is ill.” John 11:3
Jesus after telling his disciples that “Lazarus has died,” says “I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe.” Jesus loved him so much that he wept at his death and after Jesus commanded them to take away the stone, and commanding Lazarus to come out he said to them “Untie him and let him go.” Notice he did not tell Lazarus to remove his own stone or untie his own hands. He commanded others to do for him what he could not do himself.
Notice that Jesus desired that they take part in this. He asked them to “untie” Lazarus and “Let him go.” This is where we see the importance of community and church. Jesus knows that it is not enough just to heal us, but he also desires that we find this healing through community that we may be loved, supported, and connected to others. This is what church is all about. You have this entire community of people to embrace you, love you, and support you.
Far too often when we face difficulties we try to handle them by ourselves. Sometimes this is necessary, but most times our struggles and our sufferings are to be shared with others. It is then that we discover that we can trust other people, we can depend on others in healthy ways, and we are not alone.
As John Vanier explains in his book Community and Growth, “Many People need desperately to be able to communicate some of their inner pains and joys to someone who can hold them without making judgments, but with understanding, compassion, and certain wisdom… someone to whom they can reveal all the pain… Then they can gradually be liberated from these deep powers that have been governing them, or at least come to a better understanding and acceptance of them. They start then on a journey towards inner healing and wholeness.” P. 250-251
The pain and darkness that we hold onto is like an inner tomb, a part of us that is dead or in denial of life. And we need Jesus to heal us, raise us to new life, and send people into our lives that can “untie” us and set us free. The Catechism states that “Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.” Catechism §1440
Is there anything in your life that you are bound by right now? Have you tried to overcome it alone and failed? Is there an inner tomb in you that feels dead and powerless? Are you tied up and at the end of your rope? Have you tried to free yourself and failed over and over again?
Let someone else untie you. We all need a spiritual friend, family, friendship, church community, spiritual director, counselor, or companion to share the journey. Let Jesus raise you to new life in this church community. (Alternate Opening Prayer – “Help us to embrace the world that you have given us, that we may transform the darkness of its pain into the life and joy of Easter”). Reach out to a friend, the person in the pew behind you, your priest, or a counselor, your husband or wife or parents or a wisdom figure in your life. Experience the freedom that comes when you encounter Jesus in the sacrament of confession as he unbinds you through the hands and voice of the priest. God does place people into our lives to do what we cannot do for ourselves. Let someone else untie you, and you too can share in the power of Christ’s Resurrection.