|The Resurrection of Lazarus, Francesco Salviati|
On this, the Feast of St. Lazarus, it is good to remember the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” These words are from John 11:35, and they describe the emotion that many of us have felt after seeing a beloved friend or relative in the tomb. No doubt Jesus cried not only at the sight of Lazarus, but because his sacred heart bled in compassionate empathy for Mary and Martha, who were grieving their brother’s death. In the original Greek, first the gospel says that Jesus loved Lazarus as a brother, and that he loved (ēgapa, ἠγάπα) Lazarus, Mary and Martha. That is the imperfect, indicative third person singular verb for the selfless love, agape. Jesus “agaped” these people, and that is why he wept. He was not just consoling them, he was suffering in love for and with them.
To me, this agape is the hallmark of the priesthood of the baptized, because although we may not all be called to administer the sacraments, or perform the miracles of Christ, we can do more than just console our suffering sisters and brothers. We can live their suffering in our hearts, which makes us live and love more completely than we could scarcely imagine on our own.
We see this theme again brought up by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verse 4 in which the apostle rather sharply reminds his readers that we have been buried with Christ through baptism. That is to say, using the old Rosicrucian motto, we are born of God, we die with Christ, and we are raised in the Holy Spirit. St. Paul echoes this idea by stating that "Christ, being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him." This power, according to Paul, extends to us, if we would only believe and live out our conscious love.
This action of conscious loving and following the deathless example of Christ is not unique to the New Testament. In one of the Nag Hammadi codices, the Treatise on the Resurrection, we see it again.
May each of us come to experience the spirit of living compassion that raised Lazarus from the dead. Although we may shed many tears with our illnesses, friends and family, it is through this action that we raise ourselves up over the lordship of death. Great are those who believe, and perhaps greater are those who know through the gift of gnosis.For we have known the Son of Man, and we have believed that he rose from among the dead. This is he of whom we say, "He became the destruction of death, as he is a great one in whom they believe." Great are those who believe. The thought of those who are saved shall not perish. The mind of those who have known him shall not perish.