The other day I met with a lovely couple to discuss all the details of baptizing their first born. We talked about attending the class for parents, the requirements for the godparents, and what the ceremony would look like. They are a very nice couple, completely normal, who are growing in their faith as their family grows. They also give me a courtesy warning me about “the crazy uncle” that will most likely be attending. I am sure every family has one- mine has about five. They went on to say that while he is a very innocent soul, he has no filter. He says the most embarrassing things at the most embarrassing times. He doesn’t mean to embarrass his family- he is just clueless. They told me that this crazy uncle’s name is Matt. They also told me that uncle’s Matt’s title is Father- as in he is a priest. So when this couple said, “Fr. Matt wants to know if he can take any take any of the parts for the baptism” I read quickly in between the lines and asked, “Would you like me to say no?” I was reflecting a little bit about why this stuck with me. In one sense, Fr. Matt represents me and I represent him. We wear the same uniform. When people think of priests- they think of their experiences with specific priests and that shapes their idea of the priesthood. So if there are enough Fr. Matt’s out there, people may put me in a box before they give me a chance. But it also works the other way, that if we have enough kind and pastoral priests like Fr. Whitestone, or learned and historical priests like Fr. Aitcheson, that works to my advantage.
I bring this up as a bridge to the Gospel today because of something I read this week from St. Leo the Great:
“True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in Him our own humanity.”
In other words, when we see Jesus, we see ourselves. He represents us before our Father’s throne. In the passage today, Lazarus is an embodiment for every one of us. Now his resuscitation is qualitatively and essentially different than Our Lords and our eventual resurrection. This later reunion of the body and soul will be definitive. At the end of time, our bodies will be glorified; no longer subject to disease and decay. Like Jesus, we too need to walk through the door of death in order to come out the other side of the Easter tomb. But here and now, we live in the shadow of death. We, like Lazarus, are bound. We, like Lazarus, can stink with sin. We, like Lazarus, hear the voice of Jesus to come out to be set free.
St. Leo the Great also said further on in the same homily mentioned before:
“The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours.”
When the Word Became flesh in Jesus Christ, God became one of us- and in a real way- He became our representative. This should inspire us. This should give us courage. This should change us.