Whether we acknowledge them or not, there are all sorts of bondages in life. On an individual level, addictions of all kinds, for example, chemical substance abuse, gambling, sex, and intoxicating power, dehumanize and destroy ordinary, healthy human beings.
On individual and communal (societal) levels, we run into vincible thus corrigible but persisting ignorance, inability to reform and repent, which undermines and destroys all the good things. These symptoms are often found among dictatorial governments and arrogant people. They slowly paralyze the ability to act and think properly.
Perhaps this spiritual paralysis explains senseless violence of human rights and its continuation in spite of much publicity and opposition. China or North Korea comes to mind. The impairment and loss of moral and spiritual judgment makes possible the exploitation of desperate people whether they are runway teenagers in major cities or escapees from repressive regimes.
We hear with chill in our backs the reports of the nightmarish existence of the homeless, the vagrant, the political prisoners and refugees. Living seems almost worse than dying. Many are in the grip of death. There are 300,000 North Korean refugees in Northern China who are subject to hunger, constant fear, and exploitation, including human trafficking. There are also those who even contemplate suicide. There are, of course, so many people in Africa and Latin America who suffer from the reign of terror or dehumanizing poverty and hunger. So many of them perish in their journey to a decent life in the Mediterranean Sea or the Mexican desert. We need to free them from the culture of terror and death.
Having opened a new possibility to a Samaritan woman, having endowed a man with a gift of sight, Jesus today restores life to a man who was under the firm grip of death in the tomb. Jesus commands: “Lazarus, come out!” and tells others: “Untie him and let him go.” Finally, Jesus overcomes even death.
Death seems so final and terminal. But we say it is liminal, namely, it is the threshold to pass to another stage of life. Addictions and tyrannies seem so permanent and beyond remedy. But God has the final word, not them. St. Paul confidently pronounces: “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.”
Through the indwelling Spirit, we can be freed from the bondage of sin and even death. Jesus wants to untie us from the bondage through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Let’s plunge into the life-restoring mercy of our loving God in frequenting these Sacraments!
Yours truly in Christ,
Fr. Paul D. Lee