Today’s gospel reading from the gospel of Saint John, chapter 11, verses 1 to 45, tells us the story of how Jesus brought Lazarus back to life from the dead. It is a story centered on faith, a faith that emphasizes the importance of hearing and listening to God’s word; believing in it and obeying it.

Faith according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is a personal adherence of the whole man to God who reveals himself. It involves an assent of the intellect and will to the self-revelation God has made through his deeds and words. Faith is a supernatural gift from God. “Believing" is a human act, conscious and free, corresponding to the dignity of the human person. “To believe" has thus a twofold reference: to the person, and to the truth: to the truth, by trust in the person who bears witness to it. Hence, we as Christians must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We also believe all that which is contained in the word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed.

So why don’t we listen to, believe and obey the word of God proclaimed to us? We might respond we do, but are we sincere with that response? We oftentimes say we listen to God’s word, that we believe in it, and that we obey it, but our actions say otherwise. Look at the example of Martha, who heard Jesus tell her, “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. Do you believe this?” And she responded with these words, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” But this proclamation of faith in Jesus didn’t last long for Martha, who a few minutes after, when Jesus asked them to take away the stone covering the cave to Lazarus’s tomb, she said to Him, ‘Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days,” thereby doubting Jesus’s ability and power to resurrect Lazarus. To this once again Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” Then Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

My dear friends in Christ, our lives as Christians today seem to be just like that of Martha. We say we have faith in God, that we hear and listen to His word proclaimed and taught us, and that we obey His words, but when we are faced with challenges or crises, we forget our faith in Him and doubt His ability and power to save or help us in those situations. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions! Do I sincerely believe in God or is my belief in Him like that of Martha, who said she did, yet had doubts when Jesus told them to take away the stone covering the tomb of Lazarus? Do I attentively hear and listen to the word of God proclaimed, taught and explained to me by the Church, or do I pretend to do so? Do I obey God’s words and put them into practice daily?

Today’s gospel reading story reminds us that having faith in God is not just about saying it vocally, but by living it out which entails: hearing and listening to God’s word, believing His word and obeying His word. This Lenten season, let us deepen our faith in God by attentively hearing and listening to His word proclaimed to us; by believing and accepting His word, and by obeying and living out His gospel in our world today.