Saturday, April 4, 2009

a note on this great day...

today is the saturday of the raising of lazarus.

i never cease to be moved on this great day, a respite from what should have been a more rigorous attempt at the great fast. a respite i don’t deserve, like all the blessing from Christ. but it has come all the same to call out to me to remember the unfathomable depths of the compassion of the Lord.

fr. alexander schmemann used to call this a small Paskha, a little passover if even temporary, because we know that Lazarus died later after becoming the bishop of Cyprus.

after the journey of lent we come to this two-day feast and are remind of the great love Jesus has for us. although this account is very personal, what with Jesus being lazarus’ friend we must not loose the cosmic and ontological significance of what occurs.

as He approaches the tomb of Lazarus, and after being scolded by the sisters of His friend for His tarrying, Jesus is faced with the awful and devastating effects of our condition.

the Logos of God who created us in the garden steps face to face with sin and our mortality’s disordering affects.

not only is His beloved friend dead ... but 4 days dead - and - now he stinks from the decomposition of his flesh. in the icon we see the attendants even covering their noses & mouths.

lazarus is not 1 day, not even 3 days, but four days dead. the wholeness of the three day watch plus one day.

in other words perfectly dead - even stinking in the tomb.
it is i believe the only time there is no euphemism used by Christ. the girl raised was called asleep. lazarus. Jesus says “is dead”.

then, the shortest verse in the scriptures. tow short and simple words.

Jesus wept!

the Creator sees His creature lying dead in the grave, naked and bereft of glory and beauty.

we know first hand the terrible effects of the fall on us. we feel the weight of our burdens and are constantly reminded of our physical frailty and the temporal reality of our present state. we “feel our pain”.

but we are now confronted with the effects our disobedience & fall, our mortality & condition have on our friend Jesus ... He weeps!

we glimpse in a vivid way what compels our Christ to humble Himself in such an ineffably incomprehensible way, even as Creator, He deigns of His own will, to become creature.

no longer is He utterly OTHER but now He become UTTERLY us in His person. uniting us to Himself and in the coming week “forging a path for all flesh to the resurrection.

He lays bare, His incomprehensible love for us. for all of us to see,
and (in anthropomorphic terms), He reveals His emotional devastation at our state and He shows the depths of His inner mourning over our chosen lot.

(back in the garden He told us that if we rejected His will we “will surely die” and now, seeing what we’ve brought upon ourselves He readies to make Himself a remedy to our sin.)

this is a truly great and awesome day. the love of Jesus and His compelling desire for our release and salvation are laid bare before us.

i prepare myself to walk, no ... run the course of the passion with you o Christ. strengthen me to hold fast with those who exalted You upon Your entrance into jerusalem and may i flee from their deceit who turned their voice from praise to jeers at Your crucifixion. let e always instead be compelled by Your love and moved to charity and philanthropy by the great mystery of Your condescension.

i praise Your compassion and glorify Your suffering, by Your cross, You have redeemed the world!

padre seraphim

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