Oh how things change in such a short time!

by | Mar 26, 2020

It is just over 3 months since I created my last post entitled “Celebrating Life” following my 60th Birthday.  Now so many around the world are grieving.  Thousands have more than 20,000 have died from COVID 19 and there are nearly half a million cases of coronavirus.  (Interestingly there are over 800 millions people suffering hunger around the world and we have not responded with such urgency to this crisis!  I am also convinced that if as an international community we wanted to avert a climate crisis we have the capacity to do so given the way the world has responded to COVID 19 in recent months- but I digress)  

Many, many countries are in lock down with job loses and ecomnic insecurity becoming the lived experience of millions across the world.  I am fortunate to live in a country with a great health system and infrastructure.  Many are suffering much worse than we are in Australia.  None of this could have been anticipated back in December when we celebrated my birthday.

So it is in these times that I find myself reflecting on the Raising of Lazarus- the Gospel story that is part of the liturgy for the 5th Sunday of Lent.  You can read the story in John 11:1-45 if you are not familiar with it.  I must say it was never a story that spoke to me until recently.  Now I sense that it has something to offer me, to offer us.  And so I offer my reflection on this story.

The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) during this time COVID19.

Despite hearing the news that his friend, the one whom he loves, is sick, Jesus does not rush to Lazarus’ bedside as one might expect of a friend, but rather lingers in a village some days away.  It is only when he knows that Lazarus has died that he heads for Bethany and joins his friends in grieving.  Then, as the story goes, he demands that the stone sealing the smelling remains in a cave, be rolled away and commands Lazarus to come out of the tomb, and for him to be unbound.

It is not important whether this story is literally true or not. Rather what is its invitation to us in our lives right now.

Some questions to ponder:

  • Where am I in the story?
  • Am I Lazarus in the tomb?  What parts of me and my life experiences need to die?
  • Am I being called to walk out of a place of death?  Do I have the courage to come out from wherever I may be trapped?
  • Am I, as bystander in the community, asked to roll away the stone?  Are there stones that may be entombing others that I can assist in rolling away?  Can I do so despite concerns of overwhelming stench that may be released in doing so?  Am I as a community member asked to unbind someone bound up?
  • Will I feel naked and exposed if I allow others to unbind me?  Can I allow others to unbind me?

Consider this story again, this time in the light of the COVID 19 Pandemic.  How does the story of the raising of Lazarus speak to you at a local, national, international and planetary level?

Take some time to sit with the invitations that are offered to me by reflecting on this story of the raising of Lazarus?

The raising of Lazarus by Vincent Van Gogh

The Raising of Lazarus
The Raising of Lazarus by Van Gogh was painted whilst he was in a mental hospital in Saint-Rémy. It is based on an etching by Rembrandt that his brother Theo had sent him. Some think Lazarus’ face is a self-portrait; the similarities are, no doubt, striking. https://jasongoroncy.com/2008/02/16/van-goghs-the-raising-of-lazarus/
Let us hold one another with compassion and gentleness in these challenging time.

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