At the heart of today’s Gospel, is the call to be unwavering in our faith. Lazarus was dead and was brought back to life, but he never would have been raised back to life had Mary and Martha not had some amount of faith. They could not have known that Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead, but they knew that he was the Lord, the Son of God, and that he could heal people. When Lazarus is raised to new life, the Gospel tells us that “Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed” (John 11:45). What is interesting here is the emphasis on “Many” and not “All”. You would think that having seen a dead man raised to life, every single person in that village would have faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Yet, according to the Gospel, while many did come to believe, some must not have, otherwise we would have been told “all came to faith”. Why were there people still unconvinced- and who were these people?
These are the people who, while showing a great interest in Jesus as someone spectacular, nevertheless refuse to follow Him. He was not someone they would call “Lord”, and follow with their whole lives. They had no faith in Jesus when he came into the village, and they had no faith in him when He left the village with Lazarus healed. These individuals are the people who, seeing Jesus show up say “He opened the eyes of the blind man, could he not have prevented this man’s death”? These people are so cynical that it does not matter what miracles are wrought, they still remain without faith. Such people existed in Jesus’ own day, and they continue to exist today. They are the people for whom God and the Church can do nothing right. If you tell them of something good that has happened, they complain it is not enough.
At some time or another, every Christian who discusses their faith with others will encounter just such people. They are the ones who remain cynical no matter what is said or done. If Jesus were to come and raise their neighbours from the grave, it would not be enough for them. Rather than rejoice at such a miracle- they’d wonder why everyone else has not been raised from their grave and complain about that too!
At the heart of this Gospel then, is Jesus entering the village not to raise Lazarus from the dead – that is the easy part. He enters the village to call everyone to Faith in Him. Those in that village whose hearts were open to the Truth, believed that day and their lives were transformed. Those whose hearts were not open but were hardened remained without faith. There are then in this Gospel as in real life, two kinds of people. One group of people looks towards Jesus and everlasting life, while the other group does not. Which of these two groups would you prefer to be in on the Last Day?