Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Holy Week

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Lazarus, the Friend of Jesus

Let us first of all understand that Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, personifies the whole mankind and also each man, and Bethany, the home of Lazarus the Man, is the symbol of the whole world as home of man. For each man was created friend of God and called to this Divine friendship: the knowledge of God, the communion with Him, the sharing of life with Him. 'in Him was life and Life was the light of men.' (John 1:4) And yet this Friend whom God loves, whom in love He has created, i.e., called to life, is destroyed and annihilated by a power which God has not created: death. God encounters in His own world a power which destroys His work and annihilates His design. The world is but lamentation and sorrow, tears and death. How is this possible? How did this happen? These are the questions implied in John's slow and detailed narrative of Jesus' coming to the grave of His friend. And once there, 'Jesus wept.' (John 11:35) Why does He weep if He knows that in a moment He will call Lazarus back to life? The Orthodox Church teaches that all actions of Christ are 'theandric,' i.e., both Divine and human, are actions of the one and same God-Man. But then His very tears are Divine. Jesus weeps because He contemplates the triumph of death and destruction in the world created by God.

Love, the Power of Life

'It stinketh,' say the Jews trying to prevent Jesus from approaching the corpse, and this awful warning applies to the whole world, to all life. God is Life and the Giver of Life. He called man into the Divine reality of Life and behold 'it stinketh' 'The world was created to reflect and proclaim the glory of God and it stinketh.' At the grave of Lazarus God encounters Death,' the reality of anti-life, of destruction and despair. He meets His Enemy, who has taken away from Him His World and become its prince. And we who follow Jesus, as He approaches the grave, enter with Him into that hour of His, which He announced so often as the climax and the fulfillment of his whole work. The Cross, its necessity and universal meaning are announced in the shortest verse of the Gospel: 'and Jesus wept'  We understand now that it, is because He wept, i.e., loved His friend Lazarus, that Jesus had the power of calling him back to life. The power of Resurrection is not a Divine 'power in itself,' but power of love, or rather love as power. God is Love and Love is Life, Love creates Life - It is Love that weeps at the grave and it is Love that restores life. This is the meaning of the Divine tears of Jesus. In them love is at work again recreating, redeeming, restoring the darkened life of man: 'Lazarus, come forth!' - And this is why Lazarus Saturday is the beginning of both: the Cross, as the Supreme sacrifice of love, the Resurrection, as the ultimate triumph of love.

Christ the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all the Life of the World and the resurrection
has appeared in His love to those on earth.
He has become the Image of our resurrection,
Granting divine forgiveness to all.
  Lazarus Saturday Kontakion

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