For most people, Lent and Easter seem to go with the weather - a passage from Winter to Spring or from death to new life. Winter seems to be a time of death. Many plants die and trees shed their leaves - except for the evergreen trees. The white snow seems to cover what seems to be a dead landscape. And yet in the Spring plants begin to grow again. Nature seems to point to new life from death. The plants seem dead, and yet they revive in the Spring.
When I was growing up we had a Holy Bible always sitting on our end table in the Living Room. It had very vivid pictures from both the Old and New Testaments. The one that always fascinated me the most was the picture of Our Lord calling Lazarus forth from the tomb. It showed Lazarus all wrapped in bandages getting up. Now that was impressive to me!
Our Lord talked about and gave various signs pointing to His own Resurrection. Lazarus for me was the most dramatic. We know he was a close friend of Jesus. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus." (Jn. 11,5) Jesus was the wonder worker. So it is no surprise that when Lazarus was seriously sick his sisters sent for Jesus. Yet, He delayed two days. Then He said Lazarus was asleep. Now I can sympathize with the disciples. They didn't get it. Our Lord spoke in parables and signs. "'Lord, if he sleeps, he will be safe.'" (Jn. 11,12) Jesus as He did on all other occasions when his disciples did not understand clarified Himself - Lazarus was dead. This miracle was going to be performed so that the followers of Jesus "may believe." (Jn. 11, 15)
Now Martha the "active" sister meets Jesus and berates Jesus because He did not arrive sooner. He assures her that her brother will rise at the resurrection on the last day. He even goes on to say, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even if he die, shall live." (Jn. 11,25) Jesus asks Martha if she believes this and she says she does. Martha then went and got her sister Mary. Mary confronts Our Lord with the same claim as Martha, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (Jn. 11,32) Then occurs a startling thing, Jesus looks around, sees Mary weeping, sees the Jews who had come with her weeping, begins to be troubled and finally weeps Himself.
When I read Sacred Scripture, I always see interplay between the humanity and divinity of Jesus. At times He acts through His divine nature. At other times He acts through His human nature. This is one such occasion. Jesus in His Divinity knew what He was going to do. Lazarus was definitely going to be raised. At the same time, Jesus in His humanity felt the sorrow of Mary and those accompanying her and wept. Jesus knew how we must feel over the death of a loved one even though we believe with certainty in the Resurrection.
St. Augustine writes about the death of his mother St. Monica. Now you notice that both of them are saints. He writes about not crying in public at his mother's death because he didn't want to deny the fact of the Resurrection. However, in private, he writes about crying over his own loss.
Like St. Augustine many of us including myself have lost someone close to them. Is it all right to cry? Yes. Do we still believe in the Resurrection? Yes. However, that doesn't spare us from grieving over our own loss. Mary at the foot of the Cross, I believe, was fully aware of her Son's Resurrection as He foretold. Yet, that did not spare her from suffering. The same is true of you and me. It takes time to work out the emotional and spiritual ramifications of the death of someone close to us. The pain may not go away, but hopefully lessens over time. Our Lady must have felt the physical absence of her Son and longed to be reunited with Him in glory. We should continue to pray for our departed loved ones and unite with Jesus and offer up the sufferings of our grieving for their souls and for our own. Try to look forward to our greatest reunion - when we meet them again in Heaven!
Brother John Raymond, co-founder of The Community of The Monks of Adoration, received his M.A. in theology from Holy Apostles Seminary.