Consider first, that our Lord, during his mortal life, often restored the sight of the light of this world to them that were corporally blind; but oftener by far, both then and ever since, has by his great mercy opened the eyes of them that were spiritually blind, to see the light of God, and his eternal truths. He gave sight to him that was born blind, (John ix.,) by spreading clay upon his eyes, and ordering him to wash in the pool of Siloe; (which is interpreted ‘sent’ to instruct us that we who, according to the soul, are all born blind, by original sin, must have our eyes opened to the light of truth by the application of this mystical clay, of self-knowledge, to our inward eyes; and by being washed in him, who was sent from God, to be the true light of the world. In the supplication we make to him, for the obtaining the sight of this divine light, we must, like the blind men of Jericho, show ourselves quite in earnest, by the fervour and importunity of our prayer; and not be discouraged by the opposition we meet with from the crowd of distractions, &c., that rebukes us, as it were, and seeks to stop our mouths; but cry out so much the more for mercy, even as they did, Matt. xx. 31, and our Lord will not fail to show us the mercy we call for, and to enlighten the eyes of our souls.
Consider 2ndly, that in the gospel we read of three whom our Saviour raised from death to life: one was the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, a girl of twelve years old; another was a young man, the son of a widow of the city of Nain; the third was Lazarus of Bethania, the brother of Martha and Mary. The first was but just then dead, and was raised to life by our Lord with two words: ‘Talitha cumi;’ that is, Girl, arise. The second was carried out in order to be buried; and for the raising of him to life, something more was done; for our Lord came near, and touched the bier, and stopped them that carried it; and then said to the deceased, ‘Young man, I say to thee, arise; and he that was dead sat up and began to speak,’ &c. But Lazarus had been dead and buried four days; and before our Lord restored him to life we read, John xi., that ‘he groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself,’ verse 33; that he went to the sepulchre, and wept, verses 34, 35; that he ‘groaned again in himself,’ and ordered the stone to be taken away, verses 38, 39; that ‘He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed to his Father, and then cried, with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth,’ verses 41, 42, 43. The first of these represents such souls as have but just now fallen into sin; who by a timely and fervent application to our Lord, who alone can raise the dead to life, may more easily be recovered out of the jaws of death and hell, and brought back to the life of grace. The second represents such souls as are not only fallen into the death of sin, but are already laid upon the bier and carried towards the sepulchre of a sinful habit, by repeated acts of sin. For the raising of these to life, stronger graces are required; signified by our Lord’s touching the bier and causing the bearers of it, that is the criminal passions, which are hurrying the poor sinner to his grave, to stop and stand still. But Lazarus represents the more dismal condition of such as are already buried in inveterate habits of mortal sin; whose case requires still more extraordinary graces, signified by tears. groans, prayers, and the loud cry of the Son of God. O! Christians, let us dread the death of sin above all other evils; but much more the being buried in the grave of sinful habits; from which we shall not be raised again, without a greater miracle than even that by which Lazarus was called out of his monument. And who shall dare to be so presumptuous as to go on in his sins, flattering himself with the expectation of such a miracle being wrought in his favour?
Consider 3rdly, that in these miracles wrought by our Lord, in raising the dead to life, we find he was pleased to let himself be moved by the tears of the living, as in the case of the widow’s son, and of Lazarus: to encourage us to present to him our prayers and tears, for poor sinners dead and buried in sin; with an humble confidence, that in his great mercy he will have pity on them, (who, alas! have no pity on themselves,) and restore them to life. O what a happiness will it be for a Christian to be instrumental in this manner of bringing back any one from death to life! How agreeable will such prayers and tears be to our good Lord, which deliver a soul from sin and hell; and how beneficial to ourselves in covering a multitude of sins! But mark well the care our Lord took, for the future well-being of those men whom he raised to life. He ordered that they should give to eat to he daughter of Jairus, as soon as her soul was returned into her body, Luke viii. 56; to signify, that the sovereign means to keep her soul in life, and to recover her strength and health, is a frequent and worthy participation of the blessed sacrament. He had no sooner given life to the widow’s son, in consideration of her tears, but he delivered him to his mother, Luke vii. 15; to signify the special care he expects from the church, the common mother of all the faithful, of all these her children, whom by his grace he brings back from the death of sin, at the intercession of her prayers and tears. And with regard to Lazarus, whom he called out of his monument, bound feet and hands with winding bands, &c., he immediately ordered that they should ‘loose him, an let him go,’ John xi. 44; to signify the necessity of discharging the bands of the affections and occasions of sin, in order to maintain a new life in such as were buried a little while before in bad habits; and to the end they may be qualified henceforward to go; that is, to begin and to continue the great journey they are to make to the mountain of eternity.
Conclude, from the consideration of these miracles of our Saviour, to have recourse to him on all occasions, with a humble confidence in his mercy and goodness, for obtaining of light, life and all other good, both for thyself and thy neighbours. Thou canst not do him a greater pleasure, nor thyself a greater service.
— A meditation by Bishop Challoner.
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