John Doe

If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.

Mary Taylor

You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up everything you have.

Pope: Jesus is not afraid to approach the sinner, even the most courageous

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The new book by American Jesuit Father James Martin is titled “Lazarus, Come Out!” It will be released tomorrow, June 4th. (Libreria Editrice Vaticana) with an introduction by Pope Francis. “In these pages – writes the Pontiff – we can see the truth of a continuing and fruitful Christianity… Jesus not only spoke of eternal life, he gave it”

Pope Francesco

We must be very grateful to Father James Martin, whose other writings I know and appreciate, for his new book devoted to what he calls “Jesus’ greatest miracle”: the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. There are many reasons to be grateful to him, and they are closely related to the way he wrote this wonderful, emotional, and never predictable text.

First of all, Father James makes the biblical text speak: he examines it with the gaze and study of the different authors who have analyzed this biblical page in depth, picking out its different aspects, different underlinings, and different interpretations. But this study is always “loving,” never detached and never coldly scientific: it is the view of someone who loves the Word of God, and the story of the actions of the Son of God, Jesus. Read all the arguments and tests from biblical scholars who Father Martin reported asking me how well we can approach the Bible with the “hunger” of those who know that this Word is truly and effectively the Word of God.

God “speaking” should make us jump in our seats every day. Because the Bible is the food we need to face our lives, it represents the “message of love” that God has sent, over centuries, to men and women of all times and places. Guarding the Word, loving the Bible, carrying it with us every day with a little Bible in our pockets, and maybe even looking for it on our cell phones when we have an important meeting, a delicate appointment, a moment of frustration… all of this will help us understand how important it is to be The Bible is a living body, an open book, and a vibrant testimony to a God who did not die, buried in the dusty shelves of history, but who always walks with us, even today. And to you, too, who are opening this book now, fascinated by a story that many know, but whose deep and full significance few have understood.

Cover of Father James Martin’s LEV book “Bringing Out Lazarus”

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Moreover, we can see in these pages the truth of ongoing and fruitful Christianity: the Gospel is eternal and concrete, relating to our intimate and interior lives as well as history and daily life. Jesus didn’t just talk about eternal life, He gave it. Not only did He say, “I am the resurrection,” but He also raised Lazarus, who had been dead for three days. Christian faith is the permanent interpenetration between the eternal and the transient, between heaven and earth, between the divine and the human. Never one without the other. If it is only “ground”, what distinguishes it from good philosophy, from organized ideology, from articulated thought that remains only that, from theory that remains divorced from time and history? If Christianity cared only about the afterlife, only about eternity, then this would be a betrayal of the choice that God made, once and for all, compromising Himself with all of humanity. The Lord did not pretend to be incarnated, but rather chose to enter human history so that it would be the history of men and women, the Kingdom of God, the time and place where peace grows, hope is formed, and love creates you. He lives.

Lazarus, finally, is each one of us. Father Martin, in this regard, adhering to the Ignatian tradition, makes us identify with the story of this friend of Jesus, we are also his friends, and we are also, sometimes, “dead” because of our sin, our shortcomings and our betrayal. Frustration that degrades us and destroys our spirit. But Jesus is not afraid to approach us, even when we “stink” like a dead person who has been buried for three days. No, Jesus is not afraid of our death or our sin. It stops only at the closed door of our heart, the door that only opens from the inside and which we close twice when we believe that God is no longer able to forgive us. Instead, by reading James Martin’s detailed analysis, you can experience firsthand the profound meaning of Jesus’ gesture before a “dead” corpse, which emits a foul odor, a metaphor for the inner rot that sin generates in our souls. . Jesus is not afraid to approach a sinner, any sinner, even the most courageous and impudent. He has only one concern: that no one should be lost, and that no one should lose the opportunity to feel the embrace of his loving father. An American writer, who died in 2023, left a wonderful description of what “God’s work” is. Novelist Cormac McCarthy says one of his characters speaks this way in one of his books: “He said he believed in God even if he doubted man’s claim to know God’s thoughts, but a God who was unable to forgive would not be God either.” Yes, it really is that way: the function of God. She is to be forgiven.

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Finally, the pages of Father James Martin brought to mind a phrase from the Italian biblical scholar, Alberto Maggi, who, speaking about the text of the miracle of Lazarus, commented as follows: “By this miracle Jesus taught us not so much as the dead.” They rise, but the living do not die! What a beautiful definition full of irony! Of course the dead rise again, but what a truth it is to remind ourselves that we, the living, do not die! Death certainly comes, death strikes us, not only our own death, but above all the death of our loved ones, our families, all people: how much death we see around us, unjust and painful, because it is caused by wars, violence and violence. From Cain’s abuse of Abel. But man and woman are destined for eternity.

We all are. We are half a line, to use a geometric image: We have a starting point, our human birth, but our lives are devoted to infinity. Yes, really to Infinity. What the Bible calls “eternal life” is that life that awaits us after death and which we can touch with our own hands when we live it not in selfishness that saddens us, but in love that expands our hearts. We were created for eternity. Lazarus, thanks to these pages of Father Martin, is our friend. His resurrection reminds us and bears witness to that.

Vatican City, March 11, 2024

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