Good afternoon, Everyone:
Being a Deacon, it is so unusual for me to sleep in on a Sunday! (Smile).
I have been thinking about this Sunday's Gospel (John 11:1-45), which deals with the raising of Lazarus - definitely one of my most favorite stories in Scripture. It speaks at so many human and spiritual levels.
Several years ago, my wife and I went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. We traveled to Bethany and visited the tomb that has been historically venerated by the Church for centuries as the actual tomb where Lazarus was buried. I remember we had to climb down a long flight of narrow, stone steps to the dark and damp tomb below. In the tomb, we had to duck to move from one passage to the next where the body would have been laid.
When a small group had gathered deep down in the earth (we took turns in groups since space was limited), our Guide led us in a brief prayer, and then asked a very disturbing question; one which I remember even to this day: “What do you want to bury and leave behind in this tomb?” A question we can all reflect upon and answer in our own personal way. What would you leave behind?
If I were there today, I probably would say: I want to leave behind all my fears, anxieties, and worries about this worldwide pandemic, and trust much more in God and all the people who love and support me. I would want to hear and embrace the words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid!”
I also remember we had to then climb up these steep, slippery, rugged-stone steps all the way back to the entrance of the tomb. It was exhausting. Before my visit, I had always thought Lazarus simply “pop out” of the tomb and into light. No way. In hearing Jesus’ command, “Come forth,” he would have had to duck between the narrow passages, and then climb up all those steps to the top and into the sunlight. I never realized that.
In reflecting on this, it made me realize that it is a hard journey - often up dark, slippery, and rugged steep steps, from darkness to light, from addiction to freedom, from brokenness to healing, from sin to forgiveness/wholeness/redemption. I may be different, but that spoke to me. That is often my faith journey! And I am still climbing at times!
These are some random thoughts on this incredibly powerful passage, which I hope you will find the time to read, and take some time to focus on what you are “seeing and hearing” from this beloved Gospel.
We are here for each other,
“Hope does not disappoint!” (Romans 5:5)
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
Published with the permission of Deacon David Suley
Sirach 40: 8-9, 18-27 (Human Wretchedness and Joys of Life)
- “With all flesh, both man and beast, and upon sinners seven
- are death and bloodshed and strife and sword, calamities, famine and affliction and plague.
- Life is sweet for the self-reliant and the worker, but he who finds treasure is better off than both.
- Children and the building of a city establish a man’s name, but a blameless wife is accounted better than both.
- Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of wisdom is better than both.
- The flute and the harp make pleasant melody, but a pleasant voice is better than both.
- The eye desires grace and beauty, but the green shoots of grain more than both.
- A friend or a companion never meets one amiss, but a wife with her husband is better than both.
- Brothers and help are for a time of trouble, but almsgiving rescues better than both.
- Gold and silver make the foot stand sure, but good counsel is esteemed more than both.
- Riches and strength lift up the heart, but the fear of the Lord is better than both.
There is no loss in the fear of the Lord, and with it there is no need to seek help.
- The fear of the Lord is like a garden of blessing, and covers a man better than any glory.”
The Holy Bible
Revised Standard Version
Second Catholic Edition