Posted by: fvbcdm | April 4, 2014

Feast of Saint Isidore of Seville (4 April 2014)

Some of Our Lord’s closest friends during his life on earth were two sisters and a brother who were apparently unmarried and lived together in a village called Bethany, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem. On the western slope of that hill, facing Jerusalem, is the garden of Gethsemani, an olive grove, where Jesus suffered the agony in the garden.

More than once, Our Lord was entertained by this group of siblings. Once, Martha, one of the sisters, complained because her sister Mary wasn’t helping her with the preparations for dinner, and Jesus was not making her do so.

But the high point in their friendship came when Lazarus, the two sisters’ brother, had died. They sent word to Our Lord that Lazarus was sick, but Jesus delayed his departure from where he was to go to Bethany. By the time he got there, Lazarus had been dead for four days. The sisters were grieving over Lazarus’ death, and the sorrow in the family caused Jesus himself to weep.

He asked to be brought to the tomb. When they got there, Our Lord told them to move the stone away. Tombs in those days were usually natural caves, or man-made indentations in a rock cliff and were closed by moving a large, heavy stone over the mouth of the opening so that animals could not get in. Jesus asked that the stone be removed, and called into the dark space: “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had been dead came out, alive again.

This miracle was the one that sealed Our Lord’s fate, by his own design and will. It was bad enough for him to work healings in the Sabbath or do things up north, in Galilee. But for the religious authorities, who refused to believe in him, the fact of his raising a man from the dead right under their noses, two miles from Jerusalem, was absolutely intolerable. They had to get rid of him, and do it NOW! Shortly thereafter, the two sisters of Lazarus whom Jesus raised gave a dinner party for him, at which the apostles were also present. It occurred on a Saturday evening. When Mary poured a bottle of expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet, and Judas—the thief—objected, Jesus said, “She has done this in preparation for my burial.” He knew that the following Saturday night, he would be dead. His raising of Lazarus would lead to his own death, but then to his own resurrection, the greatest of all his miracles.

“I came that they may have life,” Jesus says in the gospel. That “they” is all of us. He wants us to have healthy natural life, but above a healthy spiritual life, and then eternal life with him in heaven. This weekend Mass is all about life, resurrection, and eternal joy. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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