Homily on Lazarus Saturday

Photo: desharel.blogspot.com Photo: desharel.blogspot.com From the hospitable home of the sisters Martha and Mary, the Lord received through a messenger news that “Lazarus whom He loves is sick unto death.” Not seeing any hope in their brother’s recovery, the sisters persistently asked Jesus if He would come right away and help them in their grief. But Christ did not come immediately. He came to Bethany on the fourth day of Lazarus’s death.

This delay served for the even greater glory of God. The sisters were not able to understand this delay so grievous to them, and coming out to meet the Lord as He approached their house, they exclaimed, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died”. But faith and hope outweighed her pain of soul, and she added, “But now I know that God will give You whatever you ask.” Christ confirmed her faith. “Your brother will resurrect,” He said. “I know that he will resurrect on the last day,” on the day of the general resurrection, Martha replied sorrowfully. At this Christ revealed His divine essence, which is the source of our resurrection, and He said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, even if he dies, he shall live. Do you believe this?” The convinced Martha replied, “I believe, Lord, that You are Christ, the Son of God, Who has come into the world.”

This conversation gave Martha courage and she went to get her sister. “The Teacher is calling for you.” “Lord,” Mary exclaimed, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” and she fell down at the Savior’s feet. The sisters’ unanimous faith in Christ’s omnipotence over death and life, along with the grief that crushed their souls, touched Christ, and He was barely able to utter, “Where has he been laid?”

As He followed the sisters to the grave, silent tears fell from His eyes. Some of Jews who were present saw in His tears proof of His love for the dead man. Others said mockingly, “If He opened the eyes of one blind from birth, couldn’t He keep His friend from dying?” The Lord, the Seer of hearts, knew the thoughts and discussions of those around Him. And all of this—the sisters’ heavy sorrow, the hired mourners, the insatiable hatred against Him—so shook Him that despite the coming glory of raising the dead, He wept.

Approaching the grave, Christ commanded the stone to be rolled away from the cave in which Lazarus was buried. But Martha, perhaps out of her sensitivity, and wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene, protested, “Lord, it has been four days since he has been in the grave, and the smell of corruption is already coming from him!” The Savior solemnly reminded her of His promise, and they rolled away the stone from the cave where Lazarus lay dead.

Christ stood at the entrance to the cave; the people around reeled back from the stench, holding their breath, when Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and gave thanks to God. “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me,” and raising His voice, cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” To the horror of everyone present, the corpse arose from the grave and came out in his terrible burial clothes. They removed the grave clothes from Lazarus and he was able to calmly walk home, the crowd following him with fear and amazement, talking about the One Who had wrought such a great miracle.

The resurrection of Lazarus is the third resurrection of a dead person by Christ. Christ raised Jairus’s daughter right after she died; He raised the son of the widow of Nain as he was being carried to the burial grounds; and in the case of Lazarus, Christ convincingly proved His divine omnipotence by resurrecting a corpse four days dead, that had already been touched by decomposition.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Christ said also to us. He is the source of our resurrection. And as the pledge of our resurrection we receive the sacrament of His Holy Body and Blood, according to our Savior’s words: “He who eats My Body and drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him.”

Today, six days before Pascha, we raise glory to the Conqueror of Death, Christ. Many of those in Bethany who had seen the risen Lazarus believed in Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, but there were no few of them who in the darkness of their stubborn souls could not be conquered even by Lazarus, who had returned from life beyond the grave. Such darkness of soul! After all, this is the result of a prideful mind in its departure from the living God. May it not be so with us, who cry out together with Martha and Mary, “Lord, we believe that You are Christ, the Son of God, Who has come to the world.” Amen.

Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko-Borovsky)
Translation by OrthoChristian.com



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