GOD SPEAKS TO US - APRIL 4, 1965
God speaks to us in the Holy Scriptures. The liturgy is not history, satisfied with teaching past facts - the liturgy gives present realities, Jesus is now living and working in His Church according to the spirit and meaning of the Gospel. If we put ourselves in the place of the Bibical persons, our reading and reflecting upon Holy Scriptures will become fruitful.
Let us take an example from the Gospel of last Friday's Lenten Mass. It is the account of Our Lord's raising Lazarus from death to life. It is one of Our Lord's most striking and best documented miracles. In the ancient liturgy, Lazarus was a symbol of man risen from spiritual death. You or I are Lazarus if we would every fall into serious sin and recover God's grace in the Sacrament of Penance. In the Sacrament of Penance, Our Lord says to you and to me: "Lazarus come forth! Lazarus come back from the dead!"
Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, send a message to Our Lord in Perea that Lazarus is sick. He delays two whole days, then He tells the Apostles that Lazarus is dead. He leaves Perea and arrives in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem. I observe Our Lord's behavior toward the mourners. How kind He is, yet how firm he leads them on, instructing them. he adapts Himself to every situation, is considerate to everyone. In every age Christ deals with two types of people, first, the practical and the realistic Martha-souls. He spoke to Martha with absolute assurance. Lazarus will rise again. Step by step He is reading her faith for the coming miracle. We admire Martha's strong, undeviating faith in Christ and in His words. Such faith is required from us before renewal can take place.
Jesus treats Mary very differently. He is profoundly moved by her sorrow for He has a Heart that feels in a human way. A cold, unsympathetic spirit is never Christian. The scene at the grave is most impressive. Our Lord weeps: His tears are precious to me, since they were shed for me as well. He prays before the open grave, thanks His Father for hearing Him. Then He says, "Lazarus come forth!" He is summoning all of us, for we too are lying in a grave, fettered by our lower natures. For a few more days we will be in the grave of Lenten humiliation, then we shall rise with Christ.
Let us take another example and consider a homily of the illustrious Pope, St. Gregory the Great, on the Gospel of today's Mass. This homily was given on Passion Sunday in St. Peter's at Rome about 600 AD; "Give heed, beloved brethren, to the gentleness which is God's. He who had come to take our sins away, said, 'Who of you can convict me of sin?' He did not consider it beneath His dignity to show by an appeal to reason that He was no sinner - He who by the power of His divinity could pardon sinners. But it is indeed frightening to hear what He adds: 'Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear is that you are not of God...' Ask yourselves, then whether you are listening to God's words with the ear of the spirit, and you will immediately know whether you are of God." "Whoever is of God, hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear is that you are not of God." Those words are spoken to you and to me. Truly, God does speak to each one of us personally in the Holy Scriptures.