John 11:1-45, Fifth Sunday of Lent
One day, God told his angels to gather tears on earth. After a week, they returned bringing millions of tears in containers. But much to their surprise, the tears turned into gold and stones. Gabriel asked God, “Why some of the tears turned into gold and some into stones?” God smiled, “The stone tears are from people who saw the suffering of others, they shed tears out of pity, but they did nothing about it.” Then God looked at the gold tears and said, “These gold tears are from people who saw the sufferings of others, shed tears of mercy, and did something to alleviate the pain of others.”
The word “compassion” came from the prefix “com” and “passio” which means “WITH SUFFERING” in Latin. Therefore to be compassionate or merciful is “to feel the pain of other people and do something about it.” Real compassion will always lead us to good deeds to ease the pain of others.
In our Gospel today, Jesus was deeply disturbed by the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). He felt the pain of the family and friends of Lazarus. He wanted to ease the pain of Martha, Mary and the crowd by doing something. And so Jesus immediately went to the tomb and commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead. Golden tears! When someone is genuinely compassionate, a sense of urgency will always be there. They cannot afford to wait. Time matters a lot for others are in pain. The pain felt by merciful people drives them out of their comfort zones to comfort the pain of others.
We are endlessly bombarded by pain from the news of corruptions, EJK, violence, calamities, death, cancer stories, miseries of war, and different faces of poverty in our midst Reality bites! It pains us to see people suffering. We are deeply affected. We immediately blame the government for all our miseries and tragedies. But after venting out our complaints and resentments to our government for not doing anything, we simply switch off our concern for others, and move on with our daily mundane routine. We failed to move to the next level of asking, “WHAT CAN I DO TO EASE THEIR PAIN?”
This Lent, let us ask ourselves: Almost a quarter of the world is hungry. Do I share my food to ease the hunger of at least a single soul? Many deserving youth are out of school. Can I gather my friends to sponsor a scholar? We keep on blaming our parents for our miseries. Do we do something to fix it? We blame the government for their inefficient garbage collection and traffic management, but we indiscriminately throw our waste anywhere, disobey traffic rules, jaywalk and park our car anywhere.
Our country needs people who are not only “deeply disturbed and troubled,” but deeply engaged to do something about our society’s miseries and issues. We need people who are committed to do something in their own small way. We love giving small contributions for something worthwhile, why not do it for our country? Contribute something even if you’re the only one contributing. Set an example. To relieve the hunger of one soul is better than cursing the whole system.
When Lazarus came out of the tomb, his hands and feet were tied and his face was wrapped in cloth. Jesus commanded his disciples, “untie him and let him go” (John 11:45). Jesus did his part by resurrecting Lazarus. The disciples need to do their role to by untying Lazarus and setting him free!
Resurrecting our “Lazaruses” is not enough. Feeding the poor is not enough. Regular dole-outs are not liberating. We need to untie others from their own spiritual bondage. We need to empower them too to help themselves, or be helpers for others in miseries. Untie their hands so that they will be able to help others. Untie their feet so that they can be free and move forward.
Empowered people are compassionate and loving people – ever sensitive to the needs of others and passionate to respond to the signs of times.
One day, like God, we shall wipe away every tear from the eyes of our sisters and brothers. And when that day comes, we bring more Lazaruses out of their own tombs.