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It's that time of year whereby a Mass reading (4/6/14) involves the revival of Lazarus and thus time to discuss what might  be called "the Lazarus effect."

“'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?'” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to Him, 'Lord, by now there will be a stench;  he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe  you will see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear Me;  but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent Me.' And when He had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, 'Untie him and let him go.'"

That was the first Lazraus effect.

Around the world, more than ever, across all religious and socioeconomic strata, even among non-believers (who quickly become former non-believers) are those fascinating accounts of folks who have been brought back to life after clinical "death" (usually defined as cessation of pulse, blood pressure, and brainwave activity). Some of these people, including a physician who was in Moscow (and an atheist) at the time of his demise, are "dead" for whole minutes and in some instances hours at a time (the Moscow physician, Dr. George Rodonaia, now a minister [see YouTube], came to when the autopsy scalpel was pressed into his flesh). In the records are those who have even displayed rigor mortis before their vital signs returned.

On Easter, a major movie will be released based on a young boy's near-death experience.

We're not sure we know of any who were dead for four days -- as Lazarus was. But close enough.

"During the time, according to the doctors, supposedly I was dead," said a man who was declared dead after a motorcycle accident at the age of eighteen. He allegedly went to the afterlife and wanted to return.  "The only thing I can remember is like a voice saying, 'Well, you've made it. You've finally made it.' 'I want to go back,' I said. 'I'm still trying to go to school. And work. I've got people who need me. And things I've got to do.' And then the voice said, 'Well, it's up to you. If you go back, you're going to suffer. And you're going to have to endure some real pain. And I say, 'Well, it doesn't matter to me. That I can handle. Just let me go back.' And he said, 'Well, okay.' And at that instant, I felt a drop of water and then the doctor screamed, 'He's alive, he's alive!'"  

When the Lord wants us back, He can alter the laws of medicine; He can suspend nature (since He created it). It happened with Lazarus.

Said James Eldridge, 26, of Kentucky, as far as his experience: "I 'woke up,' opened my one good eye, and looked around. While I'd been in the Light, it was like there was no time. It was only after I 'woke up' that I felt it had only been a few seconds. I put my hand out and shook my mum gently. 'I had to come back,' I told her. To say she was shocked would be a huge understatement.

"She left quickly to go and find the doctors, before I had a chance to tell her what had happened. The doctors couldn't believe it when they came in to find me conscious and completely lucid. They were even more stunned when a series of tests showed that my cancer was in total remission. They called in a specialist who could only shrug and say it was a miracle.

"I'm not a medical man, I can't explain what happened. All I know is that I went into a coma riddled with cancer and, when I came out five days later, it was gone."

The cancer never returned because God had a mission for him (as He does for every one of us).

It isn't doctors who cause such miracles. Though he may use them as an agency, it is God Who heals -- Who raises the dead.

He will cure any affliction, if He wants us back on earth, to finish a task, or due to an ardent request (and prayers). So can He also heal those still conscious.

There is also a second "Lazarus effect." This has to do with that stone at the opening of his tomb. To be revived, to be born in Jesus, to live rightly, to love (the greatest standard of "judgment") -- to rise from the death of sin -- we too need to remove stones and hardness: from our hearts. Is your heart hard? Does it need to soften? Is there a boulder -- or even a pebble -- at its entrance? It is also like drips and drabs of cement: with each wrong thought, with each uncharitable word, with each negative, a bit of cement drops around our hearts and when it builds enough are hearts are encased -- entombed -- by it. Only when the "stone" -- the crust of hardness -- is removed do we resurrect with Him.

Nothing is more important.

Sometimes the heart best softens when finally we allow ourselves to weep -- for others (as did Jesus, upon the death of Lazarus).

Weeping for ourselves does not accomplish this, unless we are weeping over our imperfections, over how displeasing we have been to God.

When the stone is removed, the Light streams forth.

And when the Light streams forth, miracles occur.

[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: Announcing a retreat in Philadelphia-New Jersey area]

[resources: A Life of Blessings]

[see also: Video: that boy who went to Heaven]

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