5th Sunday of Lent
Do you believe this? (Jn 11:1-45)
As we continue to walk our journey with Christ, an interior practice is necessary for life in the spirit. We must practice living with a question inwardly for a few minutes before blurting out an answer. Like a guest at a new restaurant, when approached by the waiter or waitress, the first thing said after the greeting is, "What would you like to order?" Not familiar with the menu, we typically ask for additional time before ordering a dish. Similarly, we should take our time and live with the inquiry of our inner soul's journey before responding to a question.
Sometimes we immediately respond to questions about our soulful journey out of fear of the unknown. Occasionally we quickly react because we are uncomfortable with the silence in our sanctuary where God speaks to our conscience at the appropriate time. Desperately we search for space to listen to God's inner voice, yet our quick-fix generation gives us challenges. After all, we have Alexis, the internet god, whom some individuals trust to respond quicker and more accurately than the Creator of the Universe and Cosmos.
In John's gospel narrative concerning the death of Lazarus, Martha did not live with the question asked by Jesus. Jesus told Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." Jesus then asked Martha, "Do you believe this?" Martha, without any hesitation, said the following, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."
Important to notice here is that Jesus was speaking about His Resurrection in the present. Jesus was talking about belief in Him and that no one would spiritually die. Martha, on the other hand, expressed who Jesus was and said, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Martha believes in Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world so that we may have life. At the same time, though, she focused more on the last day and not on the present resurrection moment.
In the spiritual life, it's okay to say you don't know. I do not doubt that Martha believed that Jesus was the Christ and the Resurrection. However, Martha needed to live with the question longer, "Do you believe?" Perhaps she should have asked Jesus for a fuller understanding. In the spiritual world, not knowing the answer is okay. The movement of the spirit is to ask, seek and knock to gain a deeper understanding of God in one's life.
When reading John's narrative further, we see that Jesus gave Martha instructions to remove the stone in front of Lazarus's tomb. Instead of acting on what she believed, Martha challenged Jesus, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" Indeed, Martha failed to understand that Jesus was the Resurrection.
Therefore, when responding to a question about what you believe, live with the question for a while. "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10) who talks with you. Take your time and dive deeper into your soulful chambers, the sanctuary where you commune with God. Pope John Paul II said in Veritatis Splendor, "the sanctuary of [man and woman], [is] where [he and she] is alone with God whose voice echoes within [the]." (Article 55) Let your answers to your beliefs come from living in your sanctuary with God. The God residing in your sanctuary wants to remind you who you are "so that [you] may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery ..." (Eph. 4:14).
"I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1).
Author: Evangelist Michael Howard, MACS
Start the video below, and ask God to make you a living sanctuary, a place where God can live in you.