The Raising of Lazarus

Father Girardey recounts a tenth narrative, The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45): “There was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha, her sister.” The sister sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” But Jesus “remained in the same place two days.” He arrived in Bethania after Lazarus had been buried. “Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now also I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to Thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall live again. Martha saith to Him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live. And every one that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever. Believest thou this? She saith to Him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.” Then Jesus “cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave, and a stone was laid over it. Jesus said: Take away the stone. . . . He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And presently he that had been dead, came forth.”

Father Girardey notes: “Lazarus was greatly beloved by our divine Saviour. . . . When Lazarus became dangerously ill, his two sisters sent to Jesus the message: ‘He whom Thou lovest is sick.’ . . . Martha and Mary in their message did not expressly ask Jesus to come and cure His beloved friend Lazarus, their brother, but they naturally expected that Jesus would hasten to come and cure him. The very wording of the message implies this; and yet we may assume that in this matter they were resigned to whatever course Jesus would take. Thus also should we in our prayers for matters temporal strive to be resigned to God’s holy will, even if not in accordance with our desires.”

“After receiving the message of the illness of Lazarus, Jesus Christ seemed to be in no hurry, although He knew that Lazarus was on the point of death. . . . He proceeded to Bethany only by slow stages, so that when He reached that town, Lazarus had been dead four days. By so deferring His arrival Jesus did far more for the sisters of Lazarus than merely to cure him, for He gave them the occasion of gaining great merit, not only by accepting their brother’s death with resignation, but also by not losing, as most of us would have done, their firm faith and loving confidence in Jesus; and besides this He raised Lazarus to life by a most striking miracle in their favor, by a miracle which furnished a palpable proof of His being the Son of God and the promised Saviour of mankind and, as He Himself declared, would give great glory to God.”

“Let us admire the conduct of Martha and Mary. When they met Jesus before their brother’s resurrection, neither of them uttered a word of complaint, dissatisfaction or disappointment that Jesus had so long deferred His coming. . . . Let us learn from their example not to complain or despond, when God does not hear our prayers when and as we wish. God’s ways are not our ways, and His ways are better than ours.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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