As we stand on the threshold of Holy Week, we come to that saving day of Lazarus. Here is a prayer to begin our journey well:
“O Lord, our God: The illness of Lazarus, that man of faith, made Martha and Mary send word to your only Son to come and heal their brother. They believed that if the light of the saviour’s face would but shine on them, their brother would rise even from the most dreadful illness. Instead, your Son raised his friend from death! Now, as we stand at the threshold of this great week, O merciful Father, make the light of Christ’s face shine forth on us, so that, as we draw ever closer to him in the coming days, we may also rise with him.
By the grace and mercy and love for us of your only Son, with whom you are blest, together with your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”
(A prayer of Fr. Laurence)
The scripture declares that when the Lord arrived a few days after Lazarus had died, He was confronted by grieving sisters who both declared their faith that had He come earlier their brother would not have died. They had seen with their own eyes the miracles that the Lord performed. They had heard of other miracles as well. They believed completely that Jesus would have been able to stop Lazarus from dying. But the Lord arrived after Lazarus had been buried. So their confession to the Lord was both a question (with the hint of accusation?) and a statement of faith. Read the story of Lazarus in St. John 11.
In my own life, I have faced situations where I have prayed to God to help me and then I wondered what was taking God so long to answer. I have said to God “If only You would have…” and been tested in my faith by His timing. And there are still situations in my life that I continue to wonder about even years later. Why didn’t God act? Why didn’t God fix this? Why did this have to happen? All of these questions are normal and understandable, but, in the end, it is simply not within my power to have answers to some of these questions.
That isn’t to say there are no answers, but the answers haven’t arrived as yet. I must be confronted with the truth as Martha was confronted by the Lord when she wondered the same way I have wondered in the past “Where were You when I needed You?” The Lord told her her brother would rise again. Martha answered with the theological answer of “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (St. John 11:24) But Jesus wanted to expand Martha’s understanding of her faith. He told her “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (St. John 11:25-26)
Today, do you believe this? Do you believe that the resurrection isn’t merely an “event” to happen in the end of days, but that the Resurrection is a Person, the Lord Himself is the Resurrection, and if you have Him you are already being transfigured by His eternal Life. Do you believe this?
If you do, does your belief affect your behavior, your priorities, your attitude? Are you already participating in the Life won for you by Christ?
Today, as we stand at the end of Great Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, let us go with Christ once again down this familiar and life-giving path and once again – believe!