The miracle is to walk the earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh
What does today’s Gospel, John 11: 1-45, have to do with a phrase from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk?
The Vigils reading for the day, from St. Augustine’s Homilies on John, gave me a hint.
Among all the miracles performed by our Lord Jesus, the resurrection of Lazarus holds a foremost place in preaching…. If all things were made by [the Lord Jesus], what wonder is it that one [Lazarus] was raised by him, when so many are daily brought into the world by his power? It is a greater deed to create people than to raise them again from the dead. Yet he chose both to create and to raise again…
The last of Jesus’ signs in John’s Gospel is the raising of Lazarus, his beloved friend. John calls them signs, not miracles. They point to something more.
We look for miracles – but the real miracle is the miracle of the life given to us by the Creator. We can walk on the earth with the Lord – as Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden of Eden.
But sin and death come into our lives and we walk in exile.
We need not only life, but resurrection.
The raising of Lazarus is a foretaste of that resurrection.
Lazarus died a second time, but presumably he died with the hope of new life, with the realization that death is not the final word.
After Lazarus emerged from the tomb, Jesus told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”
A footnote in La Biblia Latinoamericana notes that the word “untie” was used by the early church in regard to the forgiveness of sins.
So Jesus wants Lazarus to walk the earth, knowing that his sins are forgiven, that he is called to live in the present but in the newness of life.
But Jesus also points to the fullness of life that is revealed in Him, the risen Lord, who calls us to live forever in him, starting now.
The miracle is to walk the earth, as Jesus did, and so to begin to walk with him – beyond death.