We are heading towards Easter. In many ways it is hard to see that far ahead. The impact COVID 19 is having on people in our community, state and world is mind boggling.
Events that are part of our fabric of life have been cancelled our routines have been turned upside down and things that we do each day and each week are no longer accessible. Our bodies and minds are in a state of shock and disbelief, asking “is this a dream I will wake up from?”
Each day we hold our breath as we receive updates on how the ‘curve’ is developing and how many more deaths have taken place. Our political and business leaders update us on policies and measures, which are not found in any play book, intended to cushion the economic fallout that ensues in responding to this health crisis; each decision taking a heavy toll on our society, leaving people bound and helpless.
SOCIETY IS, in a sense, experiencing its 40 days in the desert and carrying its cross simultaneously. Our Lenten journey has a common thread that transcends our usual Lenten action of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. There is, if you will, a collective suffering which is unifying us regardless of faith, nationality, status or wealth.
In last Sunday’s Gospel we are presented with Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha send a message to Jesus that his close friend and their brother is very ill and about to die. He needs to come quickly to help save him.
One of the striking features in this story was that Jesus did not rush out upon hearing this news, but rather waited a couple of days before heading off. By the time he arrived Lazarus had died.
Needless to say Martha was pretty annoyed that he had not arrived sooner.
Just imagine what was going through Martha’s mind as she waited for Jesus all the while seeing her brother deteriorate further then dying before he arrived.
The anguish she felt was displayed in the first thing she said to him when he arrived “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Is this not, if we are honest, a question we have asked ourselves these past few days; ‘God where are you we need you here’. To her credit, Martha finds the strength to draw on her gift of faith that helped her move from a place of frustration to one of hope, highlighted by the very next thing she said to Jesus “I know, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.”
NOW JESUS had to face the reality of the situation. He asked with a deep sigh from the heart “where have you put him?” and on the way to the tomb he weeps.
There is a deep sense of loss, his good mate had died.
If we look closely there is a pattern here.
Like Martha he allows his emotions space to be known, accepting this new reality, then and only then does he move to the next phase, namely to work with the gifts he had been given so that people can believe he is the Son of God.
He does not skip the process but rather enters it. Following his prayer to the Father, Lazarus comes out once Jesus calls his name, he is unbound and set free and people believed in him.
I often wonder why Jesus did not leave straight away, but when I stop and think about it he was with Lazarus all along. He was working through the hands and feet that tended to Lazarus whilst he was sick, gave him a warm towel, made him feel comfortable, wrapped him up in cloth and prayed with him in his final minutes, carried him to the tomb and prepared the place of rest.
DURING THIS this time we too can see him ever present working through those on the front line, helping the sick, stacking shelves, trying to find ways to juggle work and children at home just to name a few.
So whilst it is important to acknowledge our current feelings of loss, frustration, fear, anger sadness or whatever else we may be experiencing, as people who have all been created in the image and likeness of God who have Christ within us, we too have been given gifts to help us move to a place of hope, where there will be a time when we will be called by name and asked to come out of our tomb and be set free.
Perhaps like Lazarus we will see things in a new light. That is the heart of the Resurrection; herein sits the Good News.
RICHARD J KORKOR
Richard has portrayed Jesus at Hunters Hill’s Way of the Cross Good Friday Walk