The Gospel story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45) is a strange one, for many reasons. What I find most strange, but also most interesting, is that Jesus is told that “the one whom you love is ill.” Upon hearing this, Jesus doesn’t immediately go to Bethany to see his friend…he stays two days longer with his disciples. Upon his arrival in Bethany, he consoles his friends Martha and Mary. He goes to the tomb of Lazarus with Mary and Martha, and he, too, begins to weep. Several times, the Gospel says “he was greatly disturbed.”
This Gospel reading gives us a rare glimpse of Jesus…a one in which we see Jesus’s humanity expressed in several ways: his love for his friend, his being “greatly disturbed”, and in his consoling of his friends, showing compassion for his friends grief.
I think in this story, we are shown that it is OK to mourn the loss of friends and family whom we have lost in death. But, we are also called to hope and joy for the day when we will be reunited with them in eternal life. We are called with Jesus to mourn when we lose a loved one to death, but also we are called with Jesus to be joyful in anticipation of the day when we will all be raised from the grave, like Lazarus, and reunited with our loved ones for eternity.
Thanks be to God!