Thought for the week

In my ongoing series of thoughts on the upcoming Sunday’s Gospel, I give you this.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not the only story in the New Testament about the raising of the dead. This week’s Gospel brings us the well-known story of the raising of Lazarus.

Raising of LazarusOne could certainly write about the power and majesty of this event – the news that Lazarus was ill, followed by travel to see him, and then the extraordinary climax of the story, when Lazarus returns to life. At our reading’s end, we are told that many people “believed” because of seeing this event.

All that is true, but it is not what captivates me as I read the story.

When Jesus saw Lazarus, he wept. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, present from the moment of creation as the Word of God, shed tears of grief. Why should Jesus, possessed of God’s power, weep? If Jesus knew he was to raise Lazarus in a few moments, why grieve?

Scholars argue over why Jesus would weep. The text itself has people saying, “See how he loved him.” Perhaps Jesus was weeping at the death of his friend. But I think a good case can be made that Jesus wept because of the living – the sorrow that Mary and Martha were experiencing.

How often have you shed tears of sadness with another, though their sorrow is over something that has not touched you. This is the heart of empathy. And God is surely aware of our need, and our struggles. As one famous hymn says, “There is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt than in heaven.”

As we face the struggles of this life – jobs, family, faith, school, addiction, grief, or something else – it is important to remember this truth. Jesus wept. And Jesus is ready to weep with us, to be our companion in this life’s journey.

Bring your struggles, bring your burdens, bring your sadness. Find a church this Sunday, and hear the Good News that God is with us now and forever, to be our companion and our guide.

The image is from a remarkable collection of images of Christian art from the catacombs of Rome. Check it out.

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