In the reading of the Gospel [John 11:1-45], we saw how Jesus gave life to Lazarus. Lazarus, who was dead, has returned to life.
I would simply like to say something very briefly. We all have within us some areas, some parts of our heart that are not alive, that are a little dead; and some of us have many dead places in our hearts, a true spiritual necrosis! And when we are in this situation, we know it; we want to get out but we can’t. Only the power of Jesus, the power of Jesus can help us come out of these atrophied zones of the heart, these tombs of sin, which we all have.
We are all sinners! But if we become very attached to these tombs and guard them within us and do not will that our whole heart rise again to life, we become corrupted and our soul begins to give off, as Martha says, an “odor” (John 11:39)—the stench of a person who is attached to sin. And Lent is something to do with this, because all of us, who are sinners, do not end up attached to sin but that we can hear what Jesus said to Lazarus: “He cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come out’” (11:43).
Today I invite you to think for a moment, in silence, here: where is my interior necrosis? Where is the dead part of my soul? Where is my tomb? Think, for a short moment, all of you in silence. Let us think: what part of the heart can be corrupted because of my attachment to sin, one sin or another? And [I invite you] to remove the stone, to take away the stone of shame and allow the Lord to say to us, as he said to Lazarus, “Come out!” That all our soul might be healed, might be raised by the love of Jesus, by the power of Jesus. He is capable of forgiving us.
We all need it! All of us. We are all sinners, but we must be careful not to become corrupt! Sinners we may be, but he forgives us. Let us hear that voice of Jesus who, by the power of God, says to us: “Come out! Leave that tomb you have within you. Come out. I give you life, I give you happiness, I bless you, I want you for myself.”
May the Lord . . . give us all the grace to rise from our sins, to come out of our tombs; with the voice of Jesus, calling us to go out, to go to him.
—Homily, Pastoral Visit to the Roman Parish of San Gregorio Magno, April 6, 2014
A selection from The Infinite Tenderness of God: Reflections on the Gospels by Pope Francis (The Word Among Us Press, 2016). Available at wau.org/books