I was speaking recently to a friend of mine who two years ago had a brush with death. His close call, that actually included his heart stopping and needing to be revived, has changed his view of life considerably. It isn’t that he was somehow on the wrong path before and now he has “seen the light.” Quite the contrary – he was a really good man before this event. However, he truly appreciates this second chance that he has been given, and lives each day more and more as a gift because he truly believes he is incredibly blessed to have been given another chance at life. What would we do with a second chance like that?
This Sunday’s Gospel reading tells us the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus who dies, and at the urging of his friends Martha and Mary, Jesus raises Lazarus back to life. Talk about a second chance!!! While there are so many questions that come to my mind as I reflect on this story (What did Lazarus say about his resurrection experience? What was it like for him when he really died years later?), the real reflection that I feel called to consider is the how Jesus is so willing to give all of us a second chance. It is amazing to me that over and over again Jesus is able to snatch life out of death: in Lazarus’ life; in his own life; and in our lives. Is there a circumstance that Jesus cannot overcome?
Too often we carry our sins like a death sentence that cannot be overcome. We wear our weakness on the inside where others cannot see, cannot hear our lament, cannot appreciate our shame. Like witnessing the hurt of Martha and Mary, Jesus weeps with us. But his tears are not in vain. He has felt our pain, the pain of the world, and he has done something about it. Into that place where we mask our sins, Jesus calls us to come out. He empowers us to rise above our sin because he has defeated evil – death has no power over him (nor us). Allow Jesus to give you a second chance, over and over again, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where forgiveness and second chances are raised to the level of graced celebration, and see what you can do with one more chance!
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