A traditional reading for this day is from the Twelfth Chapter of the Gospel of John. Chapter Eleven is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In the Twelfth Chapter, John says Mary and Martha threw Jesus a dinner party, and that Lazarus was in attendance.
No surprise there. If you were in the sandals of Mary and Martha and someone had resuscitated your brother, you would throw them a party too, wouldn’t you?
The Chief priests are skulking in the bushes, enraged because so many people are deserting them and coming to believe in Jesus. John is using this scene to set the stage for the betrayal of Jesus that is to come on that dark Maundy Thursday night.
My attention is drawn to Lazarus. Imagine him, sitting there beside Jesus, surrounded by his neighbors and friends. His sisters have cooked up the biggest feast they could arrange. Plates of food are everywhere! There is laughter, and music, dancing and singing, everyone is having the best time. And there sits Lazarus. Maybe still a little dazed and stunned from his recent ordeal. Can’t you imagine his face? The biggest smile, wide eyes that are taking it all in. He hasn’t had time to process everything that has happened, but he is alive, and he is savoring life in a way he has never savored it before now. Understanding can come later; right now, he is near bursting with the joy of being alive and among his family. He has been freed from the tomb and is determined he will never take life for granted ever again.
There is much about life I take for granted, and much more that I do not understand. But even in these difficult days, there is so much of life, so much of the love of God surrounding us all to insist that even in the midst of calamity, I should be looking toward life and celebrating that life.
There are difficult days ahead, but no matter what, God’s love for us is not diminished. Death will not prevail against the love of God. No clique of skulking criminals hiding in the bushes will be able to defeat us, no virus will destroy, not even the death of our bodies will be the end of our story.
There will certainly be more difficult days ahead, but the end of the story belongs to God. Understanding may not come today, but we, like Lazarus, are invited to sit back and savor the joy of life because we are beloved siblings with Christ.