FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Sunday, April 2
David M. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Provost

 

Sarah Laughs and Mary Cries

 

“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” -John 11:40

 

When Sarah, wife of Abraham and progenitrix of the people of God, overhears that she will conceive and bear a son, she laughs (Genesis 18:12). She is older than your grandmother. Grandma McCarthy would certainly laugh: In terms of the body and the natural course of things, bearing a child would be impossible. In terms of her life-course and expectations for her final years and days, what would she do with son anyway? What good would a son do her now? But we know from the story of Abraham and Sarah that Isaac, their son, will be born and will live for the glory of God—that a people will be dedicated to God as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). Sarah’s scoffing (laughing) turns to joy.

 

The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) follows the same pattern. When Jesus receives word that Lazarus is near death, He takes His time. When He arrives too late, Mary is frustrated and distraught, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Jesus, too, wept. Because of the loss and pain, Mary and Martha (and we as well) are likely to miss the point of raising Lazarus from the dead: not only does Jesus overcome natural limits of death, but also He presents a clear sign that God is liberating and gathering the people of God (1 Peter 2:1-5). New life for Lazarus will bring great joy for him and his sisters, but his release from death is not for him in the same way that Sarah’s son Isaac is not, strictly speaking, for her, but for the glory of God. When Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, when tells those gathered, “Untie him and let him go” (John 11:44), Lazarus’s life becomes a sign for the world of God’s promise of salvation. He is a sign to us, about who we are called to be.

 

God, our Father, in the name of Jesus Christ and with Your life-giving Spirit, we pray that when we experience the joy of Easter, we give thanks that we and our new lives (like Lazarus’s) have become signs of God’s redemption for the world. Amen.

 

Ezek 37: 12-14    Ps 130: 1-2. 3-4. 5-6. 7-8   Rom 8:8-11      Jn 11:1-45