This author is one of the two or three most recognized Roman Catholic priests working in the United States. He is also a member of our Living Spiritual Teachers Project.
Father Martin has written several books including three New York Times bestsellers and one S&P “Best of the Year” award-winner, Between Heaven and Mirth. He is consistently one of the clearest communicators of Christian faith, willing to address difficulties of interpretation and meaning, often with personal story and humor.
This book is thorough — a serious read for anyone wanting to delve into one of the mysterious stories from the life of Jesus — with an inspirational touch.
The book begins with an excerpt from the New Testament Gospel of John: the story of the "raising" of Lazarus, which is the touchpoint for all that follows. This is one of three occasions in the canonical gospels when Jesus brings someone back to life. And it is the most well-known of them. Lazarus was Jesus’ good friend, as were his sisters, Mary and Martha. Also, famously, Jesus weeps in this story. He shows tremendous grief at the tomb where his dead friend has been laid, before he tells him, "Come out!"
In Martin’s hands, the story of Lazarus’ return to life, thanks to the miracle Jesus performs, becomes a story that might encompass every person now living. The tomb where Lazarus lay for days, before Jesus’ arrival on the scene, becomes whatever “tomb” you may find yourself in.
In one of many examples encouraging readers to make personal application, Martin writes: " 'Come out!' is an invitation to all people who feel that they are not enough. That they are inadequate. Or even that they are a 'mistake.' These feelings and beliefs are something to leave behind in the tomb because they are a kind of death. Feelings of not enoughness can be death to the spiritual life, because you live under a cloud of self-hatred. So why not leave that death in the tomb?"
"What should you let die?" is also a frequent question Martin asks his readers to consider.
He does this only after a deep dive into the locations in modern-day Israel and Palestine where the events of Lazarus and Jesus are said to have taken place, and with skillful summaries of what scholars have to say about the fine points of interpretation.
This is a book designed to inform those who are curious about the Bible, but more importantly, for readers open to learning from the teachings and life of Jesus, it will point the way for many to find fresh openings and new beginnings in their lives.