Ez 37:12-14 Rom 8:8-11 Jn 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
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The readings from Ezekiel and John’s gospel bring to my mind a certain image called “Christ of Maryknoll”. In the icon, Jesus wears the drab garb of a prisoner and is looking at the viewer through a barbed-wire fence, as though he’s imprisoned. Yet, when spending more time with the image, it becomes clearer that Jesus might actually be standing outside the fence, meaning that the viewer is the one needing freedom. What always strikes me about this image is that both ways of looking at it are correct.
When looking at the readings in the same way, that first reading calls us to a heightened concern for those persons whom we marginalize, whether on a personal or social scale. Jesus and Ezekiel challenge us to look at all people the way God does – with love and compassion. Certain groups of people—like the homeless, refugees, or any number of other groups—live on the margins because people have no hope for them. God shatters this myth and calls us to a heightened concern for their plight.
Of equal concern is our own imprisonment. From my own experience, I’ve noticed that I become so preoccupied with doing things and trying to serve people that I neglect my daily need to spend time alone with God. I constantly need to ask myself certain questions: How am I imprisoned? What separates me from the love of God? Do I allow God to enter into my life in the way that Jesus calls Lazarus from the tomb?
John writes a poignant line in his Gospel: “And Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35). Yet, oppression and death do not end in sadness, for the Spirit of Christ continues to move among us and lead us to the joy of salvation and freedom in God.
Joe Wotawa, SJ
Jesuit scholastic completing undergraduate degree in Philosophy and English