“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Mary and Martha lovingly complained to the Lord.

We find in today’s Gospel a very human experience — an experience of pain and loss. Which of us has not felt similarly to these women after having lost a job, fallen ill, been abandoned by a friend, or dealt with the death of a loved one?

The words of Mary and Martha are at once an acknowledgment, an expression of the pain and an invitation to trust. In my humble opinion, these words are an excellent prayer in times of distress.

Let’s slow down for a moment and elucidate a little more. It is universally accepted as very unhealthy to suppress and silence our feelings. Sometimes we might be hurting, and instead of telling the Lord in prayer about it, we act as if nothing is happening. This is so silly; it is hilarious! We pretend that Jesus does not know our hearts and deepest thoughts!

Even Scripture itself as seen in the Psalms demonstrates that our feelings should be an integral part of our prayer. We can find a Psalm for every emotional state we find ourselves in. They encompass the whole range of human emotions from sorrow, lament and depression to joy, praise and celebration.

Mary and Martha shared their deep sorrow with Jesus. But that is not the whole story. While it is true they address the Lord with sadness, they also approach him with great confidence.

What they say to him is not merely a complaint; it is also a statement of faith in the power of Christ. And even perhaps a nudge for him to do something else for them if he so desired.

Again, when in pain, we should imitate these saintly sisters and unite in our prayer, both a manifestation of our emotional state and unlimited confidence in the plan of God and his mercy.

Luckly for the sisters, that is not the end of the story. Jesus answers Martha saying, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

The gravity of this statement cannot be overlooked. Let us remember that whenever we read “I am” from the mouth of Jesus in the Gospel of St. John, we should remember God in the Old Testament saying, “I am who am.” Jesus is directly claiming his divinity.

But also, whatever follows the “I am” denotes something fundamental to Jesus and his mission. In this sense, Jesus became flesh to make us sharers in his Resurrection, save us from sin and hell, and ultimately invite us to live with him in heaven forever, even with our resurrected bodies.

Christ doesn’t just brag about what he is capable of, but rather immediately performs the greatest miracle of his public ministry. This miracle is so amazing, and so well known by everyone, that it is the single action that makes the Pharisees determined to kill him. Due to the fact that Lazarus was a very popular and prominent person, the news of the miracle spread quickly and far.

Finally, let’s reflect for a moment on Jesus weeping. The Jews commented, “See how he loved him.” Christ is fully divine, but also fully human. He is fully human even now in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

Are we suffering, sad, or in need? Jesus weeps for us too. He truly cares. And best of all, he has a plan! Let us open our hearts to the Lord and trust his most loving and merciful Providence.

Mar 26 – Fifth Sunday of Lent