Archive for March 26th, 2023

On this fifth Sunday of Lent, we are entering what is called Passiontide, or the final two weeks of Lent … the final two weeks of Jesus’ human life. Today begins our focus on the passion of Christ, his suffering.

And so we read the story of the death of Lazarus

Lazarus, was the brother of Mary and Martha. He had died and was already “in the grave” for four days (John 1-45).

When Jesus went there, both the sisters said to him, “if only you had been here …” In their (very human) response to him, we see our own. We long for, wish, that Jesus would come and prevent the tragedies of life and living. Yet, his message is that they (we) need to believe.

I believe that Jesus was frustrated in this situation (v. 38 speaks of him being angry) for two reasons. The first is that he was realizing that these people, even these two woman who he loved and who loved him, so easily forgot the value of their belief. The second is that in what he was about to do (raise Lazarus from his deadly grave) was a foreboding to the events coming in the days to follow. For he knew that he too would die and be left in a grave.

When he was taken to the tomb where Lazarus was buried,

he wept.

Never before (or since) have two words so drawn humanity to the person of Jesus.

In this short statement we who wear flesh on our bones, we whose hearts beat for life that has ended before us … we can relate to Jesus. He relates to us. For, in his weeping at the news of the death of his friend, we feel we can be certain that he mourns with us … for he has known mourning.

To know that we are not alone in our mourning is to be known.

I spent an evening with a longtime friend last week. We had not spent time together since last fall and we had so much to catch up on. After the initial embrace, words of it being “so long, too long”, we sat and she said, what a time you have been through with the death of your brother … how ARE you?

And it all came out.

For the better part of two hours I spoke of all the things that had transpired in the last weeks of my brother’s life. The hard things, the beautiful things, the things that spoke of God’s grace, the things I had no answers concerning. And for those two hours, she nodded, asked pertinent questions, shared laughter, shared tears with me.

As we parted I apologized to taking over our time together and she said something welcoming, kind, generous.

I felt like I had been blessed with such a sweet gift, empathy.

Empathy isn’t
“I know how you feel”
because the details of our grief is different.
It is, instead,
“I know hurt too
and I want to sit in sadness with you for a bit.”

In these two words of Jesus, we know Emmanuel truly is God WITH us.

Gracious Father,
you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,
Jesus Christ our Lord.


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