A rainbow appears over the Monstrance on Palm Sunday 4/5/20 at Saint Philip Catholic Church in Franklin, TN invoking the awe, wonder and reverence of the Eucharistic Lord.
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. John 11:5-6
During the 5th week of Lent we heard the story of the raising of Lazarus. It’s an odd story because we see that Jesus was sent word that Lazarus was ill, and the Gospel tells us, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” but instead of going to them he waited two more days. Why, if Jesus loved them, would he wait two more days before going? The scripture tells us in the previous line, that it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of Man may be glorified.
We can all perhaps think to ourselves, well Jesus is going to raise him from the dead, so that is how the Son of Man will be glorified. And that is true. But it isn’t the full story. I pressed God on this in my prayer, “Why did Jesus wait?” My friend Ashley had told me part of the reason, and that is, it was more important to Jesus to do the will of the Father, than it was to go be with his friends. Jesus was always obedient to the will of the Father first and foremost above all else. So in obedience He waited.
“But God,” I said, “why did the Father want him to wait? Why did the Father want Martha and Mary to suffer Lazarus death?” And then it hit me. There was something that was holding Martha and Mary back from total abandonment to God. There was something that Martha and Mary were attached to that God wanted to purify them of and it was only through experiencing the death of their brother that they would be purified. I don’t know what their attachment was, it could have been Lazarus himself, but whatever it was, the death of Lazarus made them totally surrender to God. And so, it was because Jesus loved them that he waited. And Jesus wept because this suffering was the only way they would totally trust God alone and have no other idols. And the Son of Man could be glorified, in them. We later see Mary’s total abandonment when she anoints the feet of Jesus with costly perfume and dries them with her hair, much to the dismay of Judas who is steeped in sin. Mary has given Jesus everything.
The other day I had a conversation about the Stations of the Cross. My friend wanted to know about the 15th Station – the Resurrection. Being the lover of tradition that I am, I gave her a lesson on how there are only 14 Stations of the Cross as set by Pope Clement XII in 1730 to commemorate the Passion and Death and that the Resurrection was not part of the Stations. I told her it wasn’t really until the last 50 years or so that we saw this 15th Station pop up because some people wanted to end the Station of the Cross on a happy note. And we continued our conversation about this and why the original stations would not have included the Resurrection. Jesus himself waited. He waited 3 days before the Resurrection. He didn’t skip past the suffering. He let them sit in it. It was God’s will for them. Why?
We are meant to sit in it. We are meant to pause. The Saints and holy people tell us one of the greatest tragedies is that people do not meditate on or ponder the Passion. They skip straight to the Resurrection in an effort to be comfortable with the story and then miss the depth of what He did. And we miss the deepest wounds inside of us being healed. It’s in the depth of those wounds, the ones that often keep us from God alone, the depths of our sin, the depths of our unforgiveness, the depths of our idolatry, that God wants to go to to heal us. It is in the Passion and death, and in pondering that, that we see the lengths that God goes to in order to heal us and set us free. When we skip straight to the Resurrection we aren’t abandoning ourselves and our crosses to God. We need him to wait because it’s good for us.
When I ponder the Passion, I weep at the suffering, and I want to repent of my sin. I want to hand over every idol I have to God. I want to repair the damage I have done. Without the Passion, I don’t know if I would, in fact I know I wouldn’t. When I look at the Passion and I see the love Jesus has for me, I weep in sorrow, I repent, I make reparation, and I invite Christ in me. I become a conduit of His love, so that the Son of Man can be glorified. The suffering is the only way I would see it because I have been blinded by the world. The suffering wakes me up and unveils the depths of God’s love for me.
And so here we are in the middle of a pandemic. And I find myself thinking this pandemic will lift when we fall prostrate before the Lord and change the way we live. When we begin to reverence sincerely with the awe and wonder the Eucharist that has been taken from us; when we stop murdering our unborn children; when our leaders become transparent about the sexual abuse and the unchaste lives often promoted in our seminaries; when they stop covering up and stop caring more about the world than they do our souls; when we stop the damage to the family unit; when we love our fellow man like Christ does; when we bow down in humility at the God who loves us and wants to prosper us, that’s when this will end. When we realize all the goodness of God alone and stop putting everything else before him. He is the Lord our God, who is LOVE, and we shall have no other Gods besides Him. When we have other Gods besides Him, we suffer but in the suffering we often realize all the gifts He has given us and we get to choose, will we turn back and TRUST, or will we walk the path to destruction. The choice is ours to make. If we turn back, his mercy is ours, he gives it freely. Until we repent of these things, he waits; waits for us to trust Him.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I trust in you.