Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
Friday, July 29, 2022
Today’s Readings: (for this wonderful feast, I have used the alternate readings for Martha, Mary and Lazarus)
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we enter the stories of three closest friends of Jesus – Martha, Mary and Lazarus. There were the bosom buddies of Jesus – doing salvation things with him for sure, but also laughing, remembering, supporting, challenging and, like all good friends, loving.
When I think of the home of this Bethany family, many characteristics come to mind. Foremost for me is hospitality. We must be welcomed into a place in order to find friendship there. We must be comfortable, cared about, and appreciated. We must feel at home.
We’ve all been in homes that make us feel this way, and hopefully our own home offers such hospitality to us and others. I think this morning of three old friends now at home with God. They were the sisters of a beloved pastor with whom I worked. We got to know them well at the time of his death and continued our friendship until they too died.
We often visited their old but perfectly appointed little home. And their hospitality took very evident forms: a prepared pitcher of Manhattans in the fridge, little snacks that we might have mentioned we liked, lively conversation, and the sharing of life-making stories – with a few secrets sprinkled in between.
I think that’s the same kind of hospitable home Mary, Martha, and Lazarus offered Jesus – a tasty meal, some good wine, and the sharing of life, laughter, and tears.
We may not immediately think of these things as holy — but I think they are. The way we welcome one another – visit, feed, listen, appreciate, care for and enjoy one another – these things open the door to more fully absorb God’s love. Hospitality is very definitely a ministry and a sacrament.
When we open our hearts to be the presence of God’s own welcome, we too can share the bread of life, the wine of experience, and the certainty of love with our infinitely hospitable Creator.
What immeasurable gifts! Having received them from God, may we offer them to others especially those who find them nowhere else.
May all our loving hospitality create a dwelling place for God in our hearts!
Imagine what is was like for Jesus to decide to raise this dearest friend Lazarus FROM THE DEAD!!!!
Imagine what it was like for Lazarus for the rest of his life to be the guy – “Hey? Weren’t you DEAD once????)
There may be things in our own lives that echo these feelings. Have we ever given everything for a friend or beloved when others don’t understand?
Have we come back from a place of death which, once again, no one really understands?
Talk with Jesus and Lazarus about your experiences in your prayer toady.
Poetry: The Raising of Lazarus by Franz Wright
from a fragment by Rainer Maria Rilke
But Jesus knew his friends. Before they were,
he knew them; and they knew
that he would never leave them
desolate here. So he let his exhausted eyes close
at first glimpse of the village.
And immediately he seemed
to be standing in their midst.
Here was Martha, the dead boy’s sister.
He knew he would always find her
at his right hand, and beside her
Mary. They were all here.
Yet opening his eyes it was not so.
He was standing apart,
even the two women
slowly backing away,
as if from concern for their good name.
Then he began to hear voices
muttering under their breath
quite distinctly; or thinking,
Lord, if you had been here our friend might not have died.
(At that, he seemed to reach out
to touch someone’s face
with infinite gentleness,
and silently wept.) He asked them the way
to the grave. And he followed
behind them, preparing
to do what is not done
to that green silent place
where life and death are one.
Merely to walk down this road
had started to feel like a test,
or a poorly prepared-for performance
with actors unsure of their lines,
or which play they were supposed to be in;
a feverish outrage rising inside him
at the glib ease with which words like “living”
and “being dead” rolled off their tongues.
And awe flooded his body
when he hoarsely cried,
“Move the stone!”
“By now he must stink,”
somebody helpfully shouted.
(And it was true, the body
had been lying in the tomb
four days.) But he was far away,
too far away inside himself
to hear it, beginning
to fill with that gesture
which rose through him:
no hand this heavy
had ever been raised, no human hand
had ever reached this height
shining an instant in air, then
all at once clenching into itself
at the thought all the dead might return
from that tomb where
the enormous cocoon
of the corpse was beginning to stir.
In the end, though, nobody stood
there at its entrance
but the young man
who had freed his right arm
and was pulling at his face,
at small strips of grave wrappings.
Peter looked across at Jesus
with an expression that seemed to say
You did it, or What have you done? And all
saw how their vague and inaccurate
life made room for him once more.
Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ (Click ” Watch on YouTube” )
Let’s be a place where God, and all God’s creatures, find a dwelling place of hospitality.