There’s quite a bit of roadkill here in northern New England and sometimes I’ve driven by the same poor corpse a few days in a row, each day getting progressively nastier. This quote comes from the scene where Jesus raises Laz’arus from the dead. He isn’t freshly dead; he’s been festering in the tomb and quite stinky at this point, beyond help in the minds of seemingly everyone there except Jesus. The full context of this quote is:
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Laz’arus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”—John 11:38-44 (RSVCE)
I combined the call for faith that Jesus makes to the doubtful sister, and the summons to the dead brother, in a singular statement. I spent many years in the darkness because I felt like I could hide my secrets there. Entering into the light exposes all those vices and embarrassments, but not for shaming. Jesus already knows all our darkest secrets, and he invites us to cooperate with him to cast that guilt and be renewed in his light. In other words, the light calls us to be light, and not carry a weighty burden of all our sins around. Sin shrivels and wilts away in the burning light.
I like Matthew Kelly’s analogy of a car being like our soul, with trash and dirt being sin:
“The car is quite messy on the inside and dirty on the outside, and you become less careful with it. You just throw another little piece of trash in the backseat because there is already so much that you won’t notice the extra piece. And then, before long, you are throwing big bits of trash back there. Do you know why? Because you have lost your sensitivity, and once you lose that sensitivity a big piece of trash doesn’t look that bad among all those little bits! We lose our sensitivity to sin in exactly the same way. After a while, a big self-destructive behavior doesn’t look that bad among all those little self-destructive behaviors. When you get your car washed you are sensitive to the things that make it dirty.”—Matthew Kelly, Rediscover Catholicism
Is there a darkness in your life that you are being called to rise out of? Shame and guilt can often grip us, and it helps to start by understanding the differences between them: YouTube: Father Mike and Ascension Presents: Shame Vs. Guilt – Their Meanings and How You Can Heal