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Lazarus represents all of us. He was a good friend of Jesus. Didn’t it strike you that Lazarus was referred to as “the one whom Jesus loved”? Jesus says the same thing about each of us: “the one He loves.” Also in this Gospel of St. John, Jesus tells us, “I no longer call you slaves, for a slave does not know what his master is about. Instead, I call you friends.” Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, so am I. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, so are you a very good friend – a very good friend
Lazarus represents all of us. Sometimes we may think that because we are friends of Jesus we will always have a happy, carefree life. In fact, Martha thought this way. That’s why she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” By this she implied that the friends of Jesus do not die. The friends of Jesus do not get sick. They do not suffer.
Jesus’ response to this was that even if he had been there, Lazarus would still die. The friends of Jesus are not exempt from suffering or sickness. The friends of Jesus are not exempt from death. Stop thinking that because you are suffering God holds a grudge against you. God does not keep grudges against His friends. If God has called you His friend and His loved one, He will not keep a grudge against you. You may not be spared from suffering, you may not be spared from death, but certainly God is still your friend.
It is a consoling thought, dear friends, that we are friends of God. But the distressing thought is that, unlike the friends of President Ramos or President Clinton, we will not have any fringe benefits. In fact, the mark that we are friends of God is that we will have to suffer.
Another point we should consider is that Jesus loved Lazarus so much that he wept upon learning that Lazarus died. It is good to laugh with friends. When we laugh with friends, our joy is doubled. But when your friends laugh at you, it hurts. Have you ever experienced having your friends cry for you or cry with you? That is the mark of true friendship: when you are able to cry for or with your friend. Unfortunately, some of us are afraid to cry. Men, in particular, run the risk of being branded a wimp or effeminate if they cry. Women, on the other hand, are judged as weak and afraid to fight if they cry.
But to cry is not necessarily a sign of weakness; when men cry, it is not a sign of weakness. To cry is a sign of love. If you have never experienced how to have somebody cry for, and with, you, then you’re missing a lot in life. If you have never experienced how it is to cry for somebody, you don’t know what you are talking about when you talk of love.
The friendship of Jesus did not end with crying. The friendship of Jesus did not end in tears. His friendship ended in the giving of new life. He told the dead Lazarus, “Lazarus, I command you, come out!” Our friends can leave us in the tomb, as Martha and Mary did, when they abandoned their brother. Didn’t it strike you that God, the friend of Lazarus, wanted to offer him life, while his sisters, who were supposed to be his blood relatives, were objecting to new life for him? Didn’t it strike you that Jesus wanted to give new life to Lazarus while the only thing that Martha was concerned about was the aesthetics? “Lord, there will be a stench. It would be ugly to look at dead people coming back to life,” she said. Again, hasn’t it struck you that there are some among us, who are more concerned about the stench we would create than the new life that God offers?
We pray for the Marthas in our lives, who are more concerned about the stench rather than the promise of new life and the hope for new opportunities that God gives us.
Be consoled by this thought: Jesus is your friend and the one that Jesus loves is you. If there is nobody who has ever cried for and wept with you, Jesus does because He loves you. If people will object to new opportunities, new chances for you, forget about them. Jesus is still bidding you, “Rise up, rise up, and enter into new life again!” Let us thank Jesus for being our friend.
FRIENDS OF JESUS
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