Sunday reflection: John 11:1-45

posted at 10:01 am on April 6, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection only represents my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion.Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here For previous Green Room entries, click here.

Today’s Gospel reading is John 11:1-45:

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to Jesus saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “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?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” 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.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

We traveled to Bethany on our pilgrimage last fall, and attended Mass in the Church of St. Lazarus. The town provides a stark contrast to some of the other traditional stops on pilgrimages for its poverty, perhaps even more so than other West Bank towns. The name Bethany means “house of the poor” or “house of affliction” in commonly accepted etymology, which may be why locals prefer al-Azzariyya (or al-Eizariya), the “Place of Lazarus” instead. It remains a place of poverty, where tourists and pilgrims provide much of their living.

If we accept that etymology for the name of the town, we can assume that Bethany was not a wealthy place in Jesus’ time either. The hospitality and love shown to Jesus by Martha and Mary earlier in the Gospel would have been extraordinarily generous, which must have touched Jesus significantly. Lazarus and his two sisters appear to be Jesus’ closest friends outside of the twelve disciples, his mother, and Mary Magdalene. Yet, when Jesus — who emphasizes throughout His ministry the need to serve the poor in particular — finds out that his dear friend in the poor town of Bethany has taken deathly ill, He makes the curious choice to do nothing about it for two full days. Before Jesus begins the journey to Bethany, He informs the disciples that Lazarus has already died, and pronounces that He was glad not to have been there, so that God’s glory may be done.

By this time in the Gospel, we know Jesus has lost two people close to Him: Joseph his earthly father, and John the Baptist. We do not know the circumstances of Joseph’s passing or Jesus’ mourning for him. We do know Jesus’ anger over the murder of John the Baptist, and His accusations against the leaders in Jerusalem for their disregard for John and his prophecies. Here, though, we have the all-too-human model of death and mourning not from evil acts but from disease.

Jesus comes to free us from death and knows He will triumph, and that Lazarus’ death and return will play a large role in freeing us. And yet, Jesus mourns over the loss of His friend, even temporarily, weeping over the pain of Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and their friends in Bethany. What does this tell us? God mourns death and the pain it causes — part of our natural order in this world, chosen out of free will in the Garden of Eden story when the first human beings chose to make themselves into gods rather than obey the Father. Our death, our pain, our poverty in means and in spirit — all these come from the same sinful nature, choices made by man and not by God. Jesus weeps for Lazarus and for all of us. He suffers in this passage, and we’ll see why momentarily.

First, though, note the reactions of Mary, Martha, and the villagers of Bethany. The two sisters pay homage to Jesus when first greeting him, but then almost scold Him for not being on hand to save their brother. Some of the villagers go directly to anger over the lack of intervention from Jesus. “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man,” they murmur, “have done something so that this man would not have died?” In fact, this perturbs Jesus “again,” on top of His sympathy for their mourning.

How often do we do the same thing? When misfortunes befall us, we ask God, “You have the power to have taken this cup from my lips! Where were you? Why did you not intervene to stop it?” It’s easy to trust God when things are going well, after all, but when adversity arrives we start accusing God of forgetting us, even when we cause our adversity ourselves. Even here, though, Mary and Martha have faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Martha doesn’t think to ask Jesus to raise Lazarus, but is satisfied in her faith that her brother will rise again on the last day, and even objects when Jesus asks to have the tombstone removed.

Why does Jesus allow the poor villagers, some his close friends, to suffer for four days in mourning – as well as himself? As in last week’s reflection, sometimes God uses adversity to allow the Holy Spirit to work in ways to bring people closer to God. Jesus uses Lazarus’ illness and death in a similar manner. The resurrection of Lazarus clearly prefigures that of Jesus Himself. His Passion in Jerusalem is now very close, and Jesus needs to give one final demonstration of the power of God through Jesus, not for His own sake … but for the sake of His disciples.  (In fact, in John 12:17, the same crowd that witnessed Lazarus coming from the tomb “bore witness” to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the start of the Passion.)

In order for His disciples to remain together after the death Jesus warns them will come from His entry into Jerusalem, they need a frame of reference for what is to come. Jesus performs His most powerful miracle of the Gospel in order to demonstrate His coming victory over all death. The disciples will need to understand this when Jesus is sacrificed for the sins of all to redeem the entire human race, especially in the hours between His death and resurrection. Jesus uses the adversity of the natural consequence of Lazarus’ illness to bring more believers to Him, but also to allow the disciples to grasp His mission when despair might otherwise rule the day.

There is another layer to this as well. Jesus comes to us as both fully human and fully divine but without the stain of the original sin. In the Temptation in the Desert, Jesus redeemed humanity from Adam’s fall, as well as that of the Israelites in their desert test. He does not have to suffer death at all, and this miracle demonstrates that powerfully. He could, as one of the other condemned men on Golgotha says in echoes of what Jesus heard in Bethany, save Himself at any time. Instead, He chooses to serve God’s will in finally breaking the chains of sin and death by dying for our sins. Jesus redeems us as a freely-given gift, which we only have to accept in order to be saved from eternal death. Lazarus’ resurrection shows the price Jesus pays for our redemption, and calls us to refrain from despair as well.

Yesterday, an instructor offered a question on which our class meditated in silence: imagine what your life would have been like without Christ. That’s not terribly difficult to visualize; I’ve seen it at times in myself, and in others. It doesn’t mean we all turn into antagonists or awful people, but that we look for material goods to idolize in place of Jesus Christ (and we all have a tendency toward that even with Christ). All of this fails; our material possessions disappear, our contemporary heroes fail us, family and friends can grow distant. Without Christ’s redemption at the center of my life, despair would take over — even if it’s a low-grade kind of despair, one that gnaws without clearly identifying itself. Death would become the greatest evil, and I would dive into sin as a way to escape from it, by chasing money, possessions, power, and sex for the momentary gratifications that only temporarily distract from that kind of emptiness. The more I chased after them, the more desperate I would become for the next distraction.

Jesus reminds us that the hoarding of possessions, pleasure, and power leaves us mired in spiritual poverty far greater than the temporal poverty of the villagers of Bethany in those days. We only have to recognize that poverty, that spiritual death, and ask Jesus to raise us from it so that we may have eternal life with the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls to all of us by name, “Come forth!” Will we shake off our shrouds and walk into the light?

Addendum: I thought you might enjoy a picture of the inside of the Church of St. Lazarus in Bethany from last November. I used a fish-eye lens, and then corrected for some of the distortion. The mosaic of Mary and Martha greeting Jesus and the altar are both quite striking, and the tomb motif of the carving on the front of the altar is worth checking out too. Click to enlarge:

Church of Lazarus' tomb in Bethany.


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Of course, my pastor actually had the call to equate Jesus’ command to come forth with gheys coming out.
United Methodism is dead.

#gheythread

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

I also take the passage to mean that if we do not know Christ, we can be redeemed by Him once we accept Him.

Thanks Ed for your analysis.

Yours in Christ,
Michael.

Michael Harlin on April 6, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Excellent post Ed and great pic of a beautiful church.

workingclass artist on April 6, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

So is United Church of Christ. While visiting my father in PA we went to a close UCOC. All I heard out of the sermon was the evils of land mines and plight of the Palestinians.

hawkdriver on April 6, 2014 at 10:27 AM

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.”

I prefer the King James version of “Loose him and let him go” to untie him and let him go.

How many things in our own lives holding us back (past wrongs, traumas, and the rest) would benefit from following the simple command loose him/her!

Happy Nomad on April 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

United Methodism is dead.

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Deader than Lazarus. I remember when they were a Christian denomination and not a social agency with a church attached.

Happy Nomad on April 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I love the artwork you use in the thumbnails for your Sunday Reflections. It reminds me of the classic portrait of Christ that my grandmother had in her house. It’s comforting to see that style; so evocative.

KS Rex on April 6, 2014 at 10:38 AM

I think Jesus’ ministry to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus speaks also to an all too human tendancy to live in the past. When tragedy strikes, we tend to wonder what could have been done differently instead of looking forward and thinking about how we can carry on. And that is truly one of God’s greatest gifts, I think; human resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Another great meditation, Ed.

hawkdriver on April 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Call s/b gall.

So glad to know that my “orientation” won’t stop me from receiving communion. But tun the pastor told me I had to turn around because I was still facing the wrong way.

Wonder why he didn’t single out the alcoholics or spouse abusers?

#gheythread

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

But tun = but then.

Jeez.

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Love the gospel of John, for all the wrong reasons. Hopefully for the right reasons, one day.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM

I prefer the King James version ….
-snip-
Happy Nomad on April 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

There is something about the King James version. The translators combined some of the best translating scholarship available at the time with trying to make the language flow or sing. (Perfect, no, and there are accusations that some of their word choices were political, but that language still works.)

As an aside, that’s why I prefer the old Catholic liturgy “one in being” to “consubstantial”. The difference in meaning is technical, but the former sounds better and will stick in the mind.

Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

As an aside, that’s why I prefer the old Catholic liturgy “one in being” to “consubstantial”. The difference in meaning is technical, but the former sounds better and will stick in the mind.

Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Why they had to change that is absolutely beyond me. Sounds like someone trying to be too smart by half. But that’s RCC liturgical scholars for you.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Why they had to change that is absolutely beyond me. Sounds like someone trying to be too smart by half. But that’s RCC liturgical scholars for you.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM

It was to bring the English-language services into line with what other Catholics around the world used for liturgical language. Not really a scholarship issue; more of a unity issue. Still a headache for those of us who’d finally managed to memorize the responses. :-)

Ed Morrissey on April 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Love the gospel of John, for all the wrong reasons. Hopefully for the right reasons, one day.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Why do you love it now?…if I may ask.

thebrokenrattle on April 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM

It was to bring the English-language services into line with what other Catholics around the world used for liturgical language. Not really a scholarship issue; more of a unity issue. Still a headache for those of us who’d finally managed to memorize the responses. :-)

Ed Morrissey on April 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of having mass in the vernacular? I’m never going to go to Latin America or Italy for church services. Blech.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Why do you love it now?…if I may ask.

thebrokenrattle on April 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM

It has many quotes and passages from Jesus that expose the empty religion of progressive religionists. :)

Coming from that perspective, it’s kind of funny to look upthread (I didn’t before) and see a few comments about church denominations that have rejected Christ.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

It has many quotes and passages from Jesus that expose the empty religion of progressive religionists. :)

Coming from that perspective, it’s kind of funny to look upthread (I didn’t before) and see a few comments about church denominations that have rejected Christ.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Personally, I think that’s a great reason to love the gospel of John. It’s one factor of several that make it stand out from the synoptics.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Why they had to change that is absolutely beyond me. Sounds like someone trying to be too smart by half. But that’s RCC liturgical scholars for you.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM

It was to bring the English-language services into line with what other Catholics around the world used for liturgical language. Not really a scholarship issue; more of a unity issue. Still a headache for those of us who’d finally managed to memorize the responses. :-)

Ed Morrissey on April 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

I can only imagine what it was like post-Vatican II and the changes to the liturgy were first received by parishioners. I realize why the current changes…to the more “traditional way”…were done, but I find the previous way was, at least to me, better and more easily understood. Maybe I’ve just become a creature of habit.

JetBoy on April 6, 2014 at 11:24 AM

It has many quotes and passages from Jesus that expose the empty religion of progressive religionists. :)

Coming from that perspective, it’s kind of funny to look upthread (I didn’t before) and see a few comments about church denominations that have rejected Christ.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Gotcha, so you are feeling that you enjoy John from a political perspective and not from a religious one? I can understand that; it’s hard melding all ones beliefs into a coherent philosophy especially when the ideals clash sometimes.

thebrokenrattle on April 6, 2014 at 11:31 AM

I can only imagine what it was like post-Vatican II and the changes to the liturgy were first received by parishioners. I realize why the current changes…to the more “traditional way”…were done, but I find the previous way was, at least to me, better and more easily understood. Maybe I’ve just become a creature of habit.

JetBoy on April 6, 2014 at 11:24 AM

I don’t like the idea that the changes come across to me as an “oopsie.” It’s like it took them decades to figure out that they didn’t do it as well as they could have the first time.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Gotcha, so you are feeling that you enjoy John from a political perspective and not from a religious one? I can understand that; it’s hard melding all ones beliefs into a coherent philosophy especially when the ideals clash sometimes.

thebrokenrattle on April 6, 2014 at 11:31 AM

That’s a pretty good assessment. It is helpful in developing good discernment to recognize truth & errors, but it will be more helpful for me to meditate more on how it speaks and applies to my own life.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Very insightful analysis, Mr. Morrissey. Thank you.

Along with all the things you’ve mentioned, I see this as being a hope-filled passage, too. In our minds, as human beings, death seems so final. I can almost imagine the thoughts going through the minds of the people present as Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled away from the tomb. If the comment made by Martha was representative of the group as a whole, it’s obvious that they thought Jesus might go into the tomb. Then, as they hear Jesus say

“Lazarus, come out!”

What a wide range of thoughts and emotions must have been experienced in that moment. Doubt. Disbelief, perhaps. Fear. Anticipation. And then the joyful wonderment of God’s power as they see Lazarus, standing at the door of the tomb!

God does things in His own time and His own way, not ours.

lineholder on April 6, 2014 at 11:48 AM

United Methodism is dead.

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

I agree with you in this opinion, but part of my opinion stems from personal circumstances.

I spent 40 years knowing OF God, and did not actually know God until that 40th year. Everything changed. I was without a church at the time, and limited by circumstances to only those nearby.

One of those churches is of the United Methodist denomination.
I was looking for “meat”, you see. A real desire to learn. And all I found at the local United Methodist church was weak “milk”.

I’ve learned far more by using online broadcasts. Some of the churches even have fellowship “chat rooms”. It’s quite literally been a God-send for me.

lineholder on April 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Jesus comes to free us from death and knows He will triumph, and that Lazarus’ death and return will play a large role in freeing us. And yet, Jesus mourns over the loss of His friend, even temporarily, weeping over the pain of Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and their friends in Bethany. What does this tell us? God mourns death and the pain it causes — part of our natural order in this world, chosen out of free will in the Garden of Eden story when the first human beings chose to make themselves into gods rather than obey the Father. Our death, our pain, our poverty in means and in spirit — all these come from the same sinful nature, choices made by man and not by God. Jesus weeps for Lazarus and for all of us.

That’s well done. Well stated.

After this reading, I feel I should focus on developing a better appreciation of how I hurt God when I ignore His will, when I fail to prey, when I choose my way rather than His way, when I sin.. I don’t appreciate the hurt that God Himself feels when I err. And the desire to avoid hurting God is a great motivator for change unto itself.

tartan on April 6, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Without Christ’s redemption at the center of my life, despair would take over — even if it’s a low-grade kind of despair, one that gnaws without clearly identifying itself.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”~Henry David Thoreau

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Thank you Ed for another exemplary Sunday Reflection…

It’s easy to trust God when things are going well, after all, but when adversity arrives we start accusing God of forgetting us, even when we cause our adversity ourselves.

So often that is true. That is where one’s faith and belief are tested…and even if we might temporarily fail that test, we are still forgiven if we repent and acknowledge our failings. And each time we repent, we find ourselves moving closer to God – and further away from desperation.

Athos on April 6, 2014 at 12:25 PM

I liked this meditation from Msgr. Pope as well…

I’ll Take Back what the Devil Stole from Me. A Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent
By: Msgr. Charles Pope

“In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The story is a significant turning point in the ministry of Jesus, for as we shall see, it is because of this incident that the Temple leadership in Jerusalem resolves to have Jesus killed.

As is proper with all the gospel accounts, we must not see this as merely an historical happening of some two thousand years ago. Rather, we must recall that we are Lazarus; we are Martha and Mary. This is also the story of how Jesus is acting in our life.

Let’s look at this Gospel in stages and learn how the Lord acts to save us and raise us to new life. This gospel has six stages that describe what Jesus does to save us.

I. HE PERMITS. Sometimes there are trials in our life, by God’s mysterious design, to bring us to greater things. The Lord permits these trials and difficulties for various reasons. But, if we are faithful, every trial is ultimately for our glory and the glory of God. The text says,

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary, and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Notice therefore that Jesus does not rush to prevent the illness of Lazarus. Rather, he permits it for now in order that something greater, God’s Glory in Jesus, be manifest. In addition, it is for Lazarus’ own good and his share in God’s glory.

It is this way with us as well. We do not always understand what God is up to in our life. His ways are often mysterious, even troubling to us. But our faith teaches us that his mysterious permission of our difficulties is ultimately for our good and for our glory.

Scripture says,

Rejoice in this. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials. But this so that your faith, more precious than any fire-tried gold, may lead to praise, honor, and glory when Jesus Christ appears. (1 Peter 1: 10)

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

For our light and momentary troubles are producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)

An old gospel hymn says, “Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand, all the way that God will lead us to that blessed promised land. But He guides us with his eye and we follow till we die, and we’ll understand it better, by and by. By and by, when the morning comes, and all the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story of how we’ve overcome, and we’ll understand it better by and by.”

For now, it is enough for us to know that God permits our struggles for a season and for a reason.

II. HE PAUSES. Here to we confront a mystery. Sometimes God says, “Wait.” Again, this is to prepare us for greater things than those for which we ask. The text says,

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.

Note that the text says that Jesus waits because he loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. This of course is paradoxical since we expect love to make one rush to the aid of the afflicted.

Yet Scripture often counsels us to wait.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Ps 27:14)
For thus says the Lord God, the holy one of Israel, “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet an in trust, your strength lies. (Isaiah 30:15)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance…God’s patience is directed to our salvation. (2 Pet 3:9)

Thus, somehow our waiting is tied to strengthening us and preparing us for something greater. Ultimately, we need God’s patience in order for us to come to full repentance; so it may not be wise to ask God to rush things. Yet still his delay often mystifies us, especially when the need is urgent.

Note too how Jesus’ delay here enables something even greater to take place. For, it is one thing to heal an ailing man. It is another and greater thing to raise a man who has been dead four days. To use an analogy, Jesus is preparing a meal. Do you want a microwave dinner or a great feast? Great feasts take longer to prepare. Jesus delays but he’s preparing something great.

For ourselves we can only ask for the grace to hold out. An old gospel song says, “Lord help me to hold out, until my change comes.” Another song says, “Hold on just a little while longer, everything’s gonna be all right.”

III. HE PAYS. Despite the design of God and his apparent delay, he is determined to bless us and save us. Jesus is determined to go and help Lazarus even though he puts himself in great danger in doing so. Notice in the following text how the apostles are anxious about going to Judea. For it is a fact that some there are plotting to kill Jesus. In order to help Lazarus, Jesus must put himself at great risk. The Text says,

Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

We must never forget the price that Jesus has paid for our healing and salvation. Scripture says, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Pet 1:18).

Indeed, the apostles’ concerns are borne out when we see that because Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Temple leaders from that point on plot to kill him (cf John 11:53). It is of course dripping with irony that they should plot to kill Jesus for raising a man from the dead. We can only thank the Lord who, for our sake, endured even death on a cross to purchase our salvation by his own blood.

IV. HE PRESCRIBES. The Lord will die to save us. But there is only one way that saving love can reach us and that is through our faith. Faith opens the door to God’s blessings and it is a door we must open by God’s grace. Thus Jesus inquires into the faith of Martha and later that of Mary. The text says,

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “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?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

Jesus prescribes faith because there is no other way. Our faith and our soul are more important to God than our bodies and creature comforts. For what good is it to gain the whole world and lose our soul? We tend to focus on physical things like our bodies, our health, and our possessions. But God focuses on the spiritual things. And so before raising Lazarus and dispelling grief, Jesus checks the condition of Martha’s faith and elicits an act of faith: “Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe.”

Scripture connects faith to seeing and experiencing great things.

All things are possible to him who believes. Mk 9:23
If you had faith as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20)
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matt 13:58)
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Mat 9:28)
So Jesus has just asked you and me a question: “Do you believe this?” And how will you answer? Now be careful. I know how we should answer. But how do we really and truthfully answer?

V. HE IS PASSIONATE. Coming upon the scene Jesus is described as deeply moved, as perturbed, as weeping. The text says,

When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” 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.”

In his human heart, Jesus experiences the full force of the loss and the blow that death delivers. That he weeps is something of mystery since he will raise Lazarus in moments. But for this moment, Jesus enters and experiences grief and loss with us. Its full force comes over him and he weeps; so much so that the bystanders say, “See how much he loved him.”

But there is more going on here. The English text also describes Jesus as being perturbed. The Greek word here is Greek word ἐμβριμάομαι (embrimaomai), which means literally to snort with anger, to have great indignation. It is a very strong word, and it includes the notion of being moved to admonish sternly. What is this anger of Jesus and at whom is it directed? It is hard to know exactly, but the best answer would seem to be that he is angry at death, and at what sin has done. For it was by sin that suffering and death entered the world. It is almost as though Jesus is on the front lines of the battle and has a focused anger against Satan and what he has done. For Scripture says, by the envy of the devil death entered the world. (Wisdom 2:23). And God has said, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

I do remember at the death of some of my loved ones, experiencing not only sorrow, but also anger. Death should NOT be. But there it is; it glares back at us, taunts us, and pursues us.

Yes, Jesus experiences the full range of what we do. And out of his sorrow and anger, he is moved to act on our behalf. God’s wrath is his passion to set things right. And Jesus is about to act.

VI. HE PREVAILS. In the end, Jesus always wins. And you can go to the end of the Bible and see that Jesus wins there too. You might just as well get on the winning team. He will not be overcome by Satan, even when all seems lost. God is a good God; he is a great God; he can do anything but fail. Jesus can make a way out of no way. The text says,

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 free.”

I have it on the best of authority that as Lazarus came out of the tomb he was singing a gospel song: “Faithful is our God! I’m reaping the harvest God promised me, take back what devil stole from me, and I rejoice today, for I shall recover it all!”

But notice something important here. Although Jesus raises Lazarus, and gives him new life, Jesus also commands the bystanders (this means you and me) to untie Lazarus and let him go free. So Christ raises us, but he has work for the Church to do: to untie those he has raised in Baptism, and to let them go free.

To have a personal relationship with Jesus is crucial, but it is also essential to have a relationship to the Church. For after raising Lazarus (us), Jesus entrusts him to the care of others. Jesus speaks to the Church – to parents, priests, catechists, all members of the Church – and gives this standing order regarding the souls he has raised to new life: “Untie them and let them go free.”

We are Lazarus and we were dead in our sin. But we have been raised to new life. And yet we can still be bound by the effects of sin. And this is why we need the sacraments, Scripture, prayer, and other ministry of the Church through catechesis, preaching, and teaching. Lazarus’ healing wasn’t a “one and you’re done” scenario, and neither is ours.

We are also the bystanders. And just as we are in need of being untied and set free, so we who are also members of the Church also have this obligation to others. Parents and elders must untie their children and let them go free by God’s grace, and so pastors must do with their flocks. As a priest, I too have realized how my people have helped to untie me and let me go free, how they have strengthened my faith, encouraged me, admonished me, and restored me.

This is the Lord’s mandate to the Church regarding every soul he has raised: “Untie him and let him go free.” This is the Lord’s work, but just as Jesus involved the bystanders then, he still involves the Church (which includes us) now.

Yes, faithful is our God. I shall recover it all.

The artwork above is from the ancient mosaics at Ravenna.

This is the song Lazarus sang as he came forth (I have it on the best of authority)….”

http://blog.adw.org

workingclass artist on April 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Of course, my pastor actually had the call to equate Jesus’ command to come forth with gheys coming out.
United Methodism is dead.

#gheythread

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

My collie says:

Except in the latter case, it’s more like a zombie apocalypse — where teh gheys come stumbling out of the closet to seek and devour the brains of Proposition 8 voters.

Actually there may be more activity in those tombs than one might think. Largely because John and Charles Wesley are spinning in their graves.

CyberCipher on April 6, 2014 at 12:38 PM

I can only imagine what it was like post-Vatican II and the changes to the liturgy were first received by parishioners. I realize why the current changes…to the more “traditional way”…were done, but I find the previous way was, at least to me, better and more easily understood. Maybe I’ve just become a creature of habit.
JetBoy on April 6, 2014 at 11:24 AM

I had a history professor who, after Vat II, left the Church to become an Episcopalian. After this change, I just left, period. I don’t see how these changes make Mass more understandable, nor do they bring more members through the doors.

Maddie on April 6, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Happy Nomad on April 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Interesting thought. I’ve wondered, were Jesus to come personally and call the Episcopal Church out of the grave, if it would be able to respond at all. *

* Excepting the Dioceses of Fort Worth and South Carolina

Shay on April 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Happy Nomad on April 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Interesting thought. I’ve wondered, were Jesus to come personally and call the Episcopal Church out of the grave, if it would be able to respond at all. *

* Excepting the Dioceses of Fort Worth and South Carolina

Shay on April 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM

If “the dead in Christ shall rise first” which churches will be the first to go?

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 2:24 PM

It was to bring the English-language services into line with what other Catholics around the world used for liturgical language. Not really a scholarship issue; more of a unity issue. Still a headache for those of us who’d finally managed to memorize the responses. :-)

Ed Morrissey on April 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

This is a problem with any liturgy in the vernacular. Pre-Vatican II, in Japan, I could do all the responses and follow the Mass in Latin completely using my missalette.

But “consubstantial” is really a bridge too far. It’s scholarly, and certainly fits the meaning, but then again, so did the old words. The problem is that they are trying to use a seldom-used Latin-based word in place of plain old Anglo-Saxon based English.

If it were not a scholarship issue, the word “consubstantial” would remain in the dustbin of never-used words for the average Catholic.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Of course, my pastor actually had the call to equate Jesus’ command to come forth with gheys coming out.
United Methodism is dead.

#gheythread

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

They’ve already tried to subvert Scripture with respect to the believing Roman centurion, so this is just one more step.

Anyone raised from the dead had to be either gay or the object of affection of a gay.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I had a history professor who, after Vat II, left the Church to become an Episcopalian. After this change, I just left, period. I don’t see how these changes make Mass more understandable, nor do they bring more members through the doors.

Maddie on April 6, 2014 at 2:02 PM

I’m wondering how your Episcopal professor friend is doing now that the Episcopal church has reinvented itself by embracing modern mores?

The changes in Catholic liturgy are really minor, and done with the best of intent. The message of the Church remains unchanging.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 2:38 PM

For it is a fact that some there are plotting to kill Jesus. In order to help Lazarus, Jesus must put himself at great risk.

workingclass artist on April 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Not at all clear. I expect that Jesus could have raised Lazarus from any place in Palestine — or the universe, for that matter. He could have sent messengers to Martha saying that she must go to the tomb of Lazarus, have someone roll back the stone, and she must call to Lazarus to come out. Indeed, after his second coming (the third is the one which has not yet happened, by my counting), he deputizes the Disciples (his students), and makes of them Apostles (messengers).

Jesus came precisely to put himself at risk, but that risk was not needed to help Lazarus. It was for a greater good.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 2:49 PM

There is something about the King James version.
Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Though this passage:
“Lord, by now there will be a stench”

In King James reads:
“Lord, by this time he stinketh”

“Stinketh” has always given me cause to stifle a giggle when read aloud.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Come Lord Jesus, save us……

crosshugger on April 6, 2014 at 3:01 PM

John’s Gospel narrative about the events leading to Holy Week have always held a curiousity for me. His use of the term The Jews. Many feel this usage played an important role in identifying the Jewish People as the killers of Jesus. I have thought, but never investigated, whether this use reflected John’s origin in Galilee and whether the term Jews at the time was used by outlanders to identify those in Judea. About the new translations, as a pre Vatican II altar boy when the most recent missal was introduced I have reverted and now give the responses in Latin; et cum spiritu tuo, dignum et justum est etc.

xkaydet65 on April 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

While I appreciate most everything contained in this post, 2 sections stand out to me:

Jesus redeems us as a freely-given gift, which we only have to accept in order to be saved from eternal death.

We only have to recognize that poverty, that spiritual death, and ask Jesus to raise us from it so that we may have eternal life with the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls to all of us by name, “Come forth!” Will we shake off our shrouds and walk into the light?

These two points seem to indicate that one is required to initiate something, to perform some work, i.e., accept or ask, so that from which point salvation would then apply to oneself.

To me, however, this passage of scripture has been one of the most glaring proofs of how fully and completely God breathes life into His children, who then declare that very life through faith and its attendant works.

Lazarus had nothing to do with the new life placed within him by Jesus’ command “Lazarus come forth!” There was no way to consent to it – or not – any more than an infant at its birth will make some willful consent to cry out and breathe in.

Lazarus, the dead man, had NO ability to “…shake off (his) shrouds and walk into the light…” while Lazarus, called into life by Christ, would do nothing less.

Acceptance, faith, good works, and the fruit of the Spirit are all evidential, not causative.

questionmark on April 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Come Lord Jesus, save us……

crosshugger on April 6, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Amen…

OmahaConservative on April 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Acceptance, faith, good works, and the fruit of the Spirit are all evidential, not causative.

questionmark on April 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

So, in a world filled with free will, what is the causative?

By your reading, neither acceptance nor faith nor good works nor even that which comes from God (who, when all is said and done, is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are not causative (that which makes someone do something).

So what is?

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 3:25 PM

By your reading, neither acceptance nor faith nor good works nor even that which comes from God (who, when all is said and done, is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are not causative (that which makes someone do something).

So what is?

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Should have been more clear.

All that I listed in my post are not causative of salvation.

The will of God in granting life is the cause of salvation. All else flows from that.

You must be born again, Jesus told Nicodemus in what I believe to be a perfect corollary. Just as a man has nothing to do with his physical conception and birth, he has nothing to do with his spiritual birth. He is, rather, made alive by the Spirit of God.

As to free will, what will does a dead man have? For all without Christ are surely dead.

questionmark on April 6, 2014 at 3:41 PM

I had a history professor who, after Vat II, left the Church to become an Episcopalian. After this change, I just left, period. I don’t see how these changes make Mass more understandable, nor do they bring more members through the doors.

Maddie on April 6, 2014 at 2:02 PM

I haven’t heard of anyone leaving The Church for another over Vatican II…until now. I don’t really know too much about them, but Traditionalist Catholics exist that see Vatican II as “heresy”. I never really understood that, as the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council didn’t radically change Roman Catholic doctrine or teachings.

The Latin mass became unnecessary. And changes like, say, a mother giving birth runs into trouble…pre-Vat2, the child’s life took precedence over the mother, and post Vat2, the mother was saved over the child, in cases where only one could be saved — which personally would have affect me, as during my birth I was apparently being very difficult, and my mother nearly died after losing so much blood, and had a priest in the delivery room reading her the Last Rites. She would have been too far “gone” to save. Thankfully, we both survived. There are obviously many other examples, but none really should have cause such a rift.

JetBoy on April 6, 2014 at 3:56 PM

[Comment deleted, user banned -- Ed]

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I think that had Jesus not said “Lazarus, come forth” but had instead said simply, “Come forth”, all the tombs would have emptied.

jackmac on April 6, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Prov 18:6 Choose any translation you like:

New International Version
The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.

New Living Translation
Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.

English Standard Version
A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.

New American Standard Bible
A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows.

King James Bible
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
A fool’s lips lead to strife, and his mouth provokes a beating.

International Standard Version
A fool’s words bring strife, and his mouth invites fighting.

NET Bible
The lips of a fool enter into strife, and his mouth invites a flogging.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
The lips of a fool bring into judgment and his mouth brings him to death.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
By talking, a fool gets into an argument, and his mouth invites a beating.

Jubilee Bible 2000
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for strokes.

King James 2000 Bible
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows.

American King James Version
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for strokes.

American Standard Version
A fool’s lips enter into contention, And his mouth calleth for stripes.

Douay-Rheims Bible
The lips of a fool intermeddle with strife: and his mouth provoketh quarrels.

Darby Bible Translation
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for stripes.

English Revised Version
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for stripes.

Webster’s Bible Translation
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

World English Bible
A fool’s lips come into strife, and his mouth invites beatings.

Young’s Literal Translation
The lips of a fool enter into strife, And his mouth for stripes calleth.

Murphy9 on April 6, 2014 at 4:36 PM

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

GFY, libwit.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

GFY, libwit.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Come on now…it’s not nice to say such things to those who are handicapped between the ears.

JetBoy on April 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Speaking as one who is most certainly benighted and morally bereft – it’s going well. Thank you for inquiring.

kcewa on April 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Of course, my pastor actually had the call to equate Jesus’ command to come forth with gheys coming out.
United Methodism is dead.

#gheythread

Nutstuyu on April 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

If it’s not that, it’s life lessons from the Bible. Learn how to have your best life now!

We got a home for ya in the LCMS. Christ crucified for your sins, preached every week. And Holy Communion every other week to prove it.

TheMightyMonarch on April 6, 2014 at 5:05 PM

As to free will, what will does a dead man have? For all without Christ are surely dead.

questionmark on April 6, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Timely comment, as my pastor preached on Ezekiel 37 (The Valley of Dry Bones) this morning. Dry bones we are, until God breathes life into us. Until He does we can’t do a whole lot but return to the dust Adam was made from.

TheMightyMonarch on April 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Ah, but it’s never enough to leave us to our silliness, is it?

You’re right, of course. The Gospel is foolishness to those who don’t believe. But for those that do, it is the power to save.

Morally bereft? Absolutely! We have nothing to offer God but our sin. Fortunately for you He takes our sin and places it on His son, for the forgiveness of that sin.

But He won’t force it on you. If you persist, and you die in your sins, God will give you justice. He will oblige your self-righteousness by separating you from Him forever.

TheMightyMonarch on April 6, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Whoa! I think a ban might be in order for Ymlm! Unless Ed decides to be more gracious than I would be.

Ymlm ought to be careful.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Whoa! I think a ban might be in order for Ymlm!
22044 on April 6, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Second that.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:54 PM

John’s Gospel narrative about the events leading to Holy Week have always held a curiousity for me. His use of the term The Jews. Many feel this usage played an important role in identifying the Jewish People as the killers of Jesus. I have thought, but never investigated, whether this use reflected John’s origin in Galilee and whether the term Jews at the time was used by outlanders to identify those in Judea.
xkaydet65 on April 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

If you Google “gospel of John” with “Jews” and you’ll come up wuth quite a few writings on that. Though I think the term is used in reference to the leaders of sects – Pharisees, Sadducees, etc – who were opposed to Jesus and wanted him stopped.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Sounds like someone didn’t get his three wishes.

CurtZHP on April 6, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Acceptance, faith, good works, and the fruit of the Spirit are all evidential, not causative.

questionmark on April 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Faith (saving faith) is causative. But saving faith is not something you do; it is something you have.

Both Reformed(Calvinistic) and Arminian theologians are wrong on this point.

Paul’s message is ontological. Once you have saving faith, you are saved and certain things obtain. This is our position, and we don’t have to do anything.

James’ message is existential. Once we have saving faith (and are saved), you do certain things. This is our experience that shows we have (saving) faith.

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 7:08 PM

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

What is this fictional sky daddy? I don’t believe in a fictional sky daddy.

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Whoa! I think a ban might be in order for Ymlm!
22044 on April 6, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Second that.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:54 PM

He/She/It is more to be pitied than censored.

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 7:19 PM

<blockquoteExcellent post Ed and great pic of a beautiful church.
workingclass artist on April 6, 2014 at 10:24 AM

>I love the artwork you use in the thumbnails for your Sunday Reflections. . . . .
KS Rex on April 6, 2014 at 10:38 AM

I also love to see the pics Ed posts of the churches and actual locations of the Bible stories from his trips. And I also love the arwork.

Thanks again, Ed, for everything and for your beautiful reflections.

Elisa on April 6, 2014 at 7:34 PM

EdL: Why does Jesus allow the poor villagers, some his close friends, to suffer for four days in mourning – as well as himself?

I never thought of it that way. That Jesus too (in His human Nature) had to endure mourning for those extra days because, obviously from the the Gospel passage, Jesus loved him very much.

I once heart that the reason for the 4 days was so that there was no question Lazarus was dead. There had been a couple cases of someone dead one day. Someone couldn’t live 4 days without water, I think.

When my grandmother was 5 years old in Spain, they thought she died from some disease that had killed 1/3rd of the town’s children. I can’t remember now which disease. This was before 1900.

They laid her out on the table in the home. Then the next morning they saw one of her eyes were open and they knew she wasn’t really dead. Her breathing must have been very shallow and maybe they felt no pulse or didn’t even check. The town doctor may not even have had a stethoscope or anything to check. Tiny village in the mountains.

4 days makes the miracle undeniable.

Elisa on April 6, 2014 at 7:42 PM

I wondered how far down the thread the first a$$hole would appear.

There’s always at least one.

Midas on April 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Thanks for the post Capt. Ed..:)

Dire Straits on April 6, 2014 at 8:56 PM

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Wow..Just..Wow..:(

PS..*Double facepalm*..

Dire Straits on April 6, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Come Lord Jesus, save us……

crosshugger on April 6, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Amen…

OmahaConservative on April 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

and Amen.

As for this:

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I would suggest that we as followers of Jesus Christ pray for this person fervently that He work in their life and bring them to the light. Don’t ban them, love them as Christ loves us and pray for their salvation. Not the easiest thing to do, but THE thing to do.

serenity on April 6, 2014 at 9:06 PM

–snip–

About the new translations, as a pre Vatican II altar boy when the most recent missal was introduced I have reverted and now give the responses in Latin; et cum spiritu tuo, dignum et justum est etc.

xkaydet65 on April 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Mr. Morrissey wrote of having ‘finally managed to memorize the responses. :-)” and now having to use new ones. The Episcopalians went through that in the late 1970s with the new prayer book. To my ear, there are some great phrasings in the old (1929) Book of Common Prayer that the new on (1979) can’t measure up to (cf, the “oughts” in the confession).

I am beginning to see a trend that we prefer what we first learned, so long as the meaning is essentially the same.

Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 9:17 PM

I wondered how far down the thread the first a$$hole would appear.

There’s always at least one.

Midas on April 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM

They’re not always so brazen, though.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 9:19 PM

Re my comment above–sorry for the formatting error. I meant to hit preview so I could properly credit xkaydet65 with his idea/observation.

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I would suggest that we as followers of Jesus Christ pray for this person fervently that He work in their life and bring them to the light. Don’t ban them, love them as Christ loves us and pray for their salvation. Not the easiest thing to do, but THE thing to do.

serenity on April 6, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Well said!

Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 9:20 PM

He/She/It is more to be pitied than censored.

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Not a dichotomy – pity it after it’s banned. Or before it’s banned – either way.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 9:39 PM

He/She/It is more to be pitied than censored.

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Not a dichotomy – pity it after it’s banned. Or before it’s banned – either way.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Good point.

davidk on April 6, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Not a dichotomy – pity it after it’s banned. Or before it’s banned – either way.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I just sent a report. In the past, the moderators have expressed their strong view that comments in the SR posts be respectful.
Their call. He can certainly keep reading all the posts if his commenting privileges get revoked.
And we can pray for his salvation.

22044 on April 6, 2014 at 10:29 PM

ah the weekly reading of stupendous silliness for the benighted and and morally bereft. How’s all this belief in the fictional sky daddy going for you tards?

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

.
Ask the “sky daddy”, when you see Him.

The primary reason for the existance of this thread is to ‘entrap’, ‘ensnare’, or otherwise con atheists into talking about the subject matter.
Even if you’ve only dropped by to “sneer” at it, you’re still talking about it.
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So far, it’s working great ! … Except for the first Sunday that Ed put this on the front-page.
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We lost commenter Byron, an avowed atheist.

Sure am gonna miss him . . . . . .

listens2glenn on April 6, 2014 at 10:50 PM

I don’t appreciate the hurt that God Himself feels when I err. And the desire to avoid hurting God is a great motivator for change unto itself.

tartan on April 6, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Something along those lines that has stuck with me (bolded):

St. Thérèse of Lisieux demonstrated to the world that sanctity does not consist in extraordinary feats of asceticism or prayer. The following observations are hers.

By always remaining very small, one can make rapid progress in the way of love.

Even if you do not feel your affection for Jesus, do not be afraid to tell him that you love him. By doing so you will compel him to help you — even to carry you, as though you were a little infant too weak to walk.

If you are willing to bear with serenity the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.

It behooves us to practice the little virtues, even though that may be quite hard at times. God never withholds the first grace, imparting courage to conquer one’s self. The soul that responds to that prompting will soon come to the light.

AesopFan on April 7, 2014 at 12:56 AM

Thank you Ed. ; ) Ridding HA of that one was long overdue.

Bmore on April 7, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Thank you Ed. ; ) Ridding HA of that one was long overdue.

Bmore on April 7, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Second that.

What does this tell us? God mourns death and the pain it causes — part of our natural order in this world, chosen out of free will in the Garden of Eden story when the first human beings chose to make themselves into gods rather than obey the Father.

Ed, I don’t know if He is actually mourning death so much as the causative pain to all involved. Christ has a completely different eternal perspective than anyone there, except maybe Lazarus as his spirit was called upon to take up his body again from beyond the veil. IMHO, even as compare/contrast with LDS view on agency, the pain of Christ and God the Father have are more from lamenting our poor choices. In addition, as you have correctly describe a “low-grade kind of despair” surrounding death being the end, the parable taught here sent out intentional shockwaves, recounted in the rest of John 11 from which people grapple with its significance. It was significant enough of an event (done for effect as you correctly indicate) that they viewed it in such a light that, “from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (11:53).

Thank you for the insightful reflection.

SkinnerVic on April 7, 2014 at 12:40 PM

[Comment deleted, user banned -- Ed]

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

You are free to come back every Sunday! Maybe your hard heart will be softened before it is too late.

Murphy9 on April 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

You are free to come back every Sunday! Maybe your hard heart will be softened before it is too late.

Murphy9 on April 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

:)

22044 on April 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM

workingclass artist on April 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM

You belong on meds, under close observation.

thejackal on April 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Thank you for your presentation for thought/reflection.

I also, would like to add that this April has many signals contained within it. Good Friday, Easter, and several planetary alignments such as the first of several Red Moons to occur this year, and Mars, Earth, and Sun, may be worth serious consideration.

Not from the prospective of the end of times, but as a new beginning that will allow U.S. to start with a clean slate.

MSGTAS on April 8, 2014 at 12:53 PM

[Comment deleted, user banned -- Ed]

Your Mamma loves me on April 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

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Aw nuts . . . . . . . . . trolls just can’t control themselves on this weekly thread . . . . . . . . . .
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But it was WORTH IT ! . . . right, Yo’ Mamma’? . . . . . . . . . . . : )

listens2glenn on April 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM