Spirituality for Today – Fall 2017 – Volume 22, Issue 1


Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Nature is dying and soon will be bound in a frozen death; a grey pall covers the earth; the ground is painted with a brown hue. All, however, is not lost. Hope for a coming regeneration, for a future resurrection of that vast variety of living things, now dormant, patiently awaits its time. Yet, within the unfolding of the cold seasons ahead, resides opportunities for the most amazing displays of natural beauty possessed by earth's seasons – God's creation ever renewing and renewed.

Viewing this predictable and inevitable progression on a human level, the gospels tell of the death and resurrection of Mary and Martha's brother, Lazarus. Hearing of his friend's fatal illness, Jesus delayed in responding to the urgent plea of his sisters to come to him. Although heartbreaking, Jesus knew that the death of Lazarus would occasion a manifestation of the power and promise of Jesus' ministry. A few days before Jesus' arrival with his disciples, death had claimed Lazarus. Martha's and Mary's grief touched Jesus greatly. In spite of the sister's misgivings, Jesus was taken to the grave of Lazarus. He called for the stone securing the tomb to be removed and he bid Lazarus to come out. Bound in his shroud, Lazarus – alive and well – came forth. "Untie him," Jesus shouted.

Take the notion of sin and death and apply it to the image of being tied up. Being mastered by sin is like being held captive. The mind lacks good intentions, the heart is cold and unresponsive, and the conscience is incapacitated. One becomes motivated not by morality, but by practicality. Any theological concerns are overshadowed by pure, uncritical self-interest. A type of dying is taking place. In contrast to the beauty of the trees as their leaves die, nothing attractive may be found in being chained tightly to the living death of sin.

Hope, however, is present. As the arrival of spring awakens slumbering nature, the call of faith seeks a change of heart, a turning away from a past way of life to one that is flush with the life of God's grace. Even in our sins, our souls are capable of responding to the gift of salvation in Christ. Our reclamation, however, depends on us. We must muster the courage to look into the darkness of our sinfulness and reject the continuation of life dominated by it. The responsibility rests within ourselves. President Abraham Lincoln said, "America will never be destroyed by anything from outside. If we falter, if we lose our freedoms, it is because we have destroyed ourselves." We can take heart in the fact that God is seeking us and the hosts of heaven are cheering us on to victory.

Choosing to cleanse our beings from the sins that soil them, the task of understanding not only what sins befoul us, but also the person we are that are vulnerable to them. We can search scripture and Church teachings for a comprehensive list of thoughts and actions that can alienate us from God and neighbor. The problem is discerning those cultural trends that are evil but accepted as normal. These are the vices that have become so intertwined with all other behaviors of society that they are not only accepted, but also defended. These are the "Get with it; it's the 21st Century." sins. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life for all centuries and is the Teacher of all people for all ages. The time has come for some critical thinking and moral evaluation of who we are in this age.

If our lives are to rise from the frozen tundra of indifference to becoming a verdant meadow of spiritual living, we have to grasp the key to our salvation. The solution always is there within reach. The puzzle is to develop the power and determination to make an unalterable choice for living a life pleasing to God, a loving gift to those around us, and a grace-filled contentment within ourselves. An obvious choice, is it not? When one considers the complexities of human nature, pursuing life in a tomb sometimes obscures our common and our spiritual sense. Like Lazarus, Christ calls us to come out and to be freed from the clothes of death. To be untied, to be unbound from sin and from death is to be free.