We have entered the holiest week of the Christian year. Our challenge as believers is to do a balancing act. We live in an increasingly secular society where the movement is to privatize religion and relegate it to the church building, effectively neutralizing its impact in every sphere of our society. We live in this society and are an integral part of it. We cannot live with a Catholic ghetto mentality. At the same time, we are called to be witnesses to Jesus by the way we live. Our society is caught up with the rites of Spring: frantic shopping, bunny rabbits; egg hunts and festal celebrations. All of this has its place, but as believing Catholic Christians, we also celebrate the great mysteries of our faith: the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior. We need to take time and reflect upon these saving mysteries and to celebrate them as a believing community.
In today’s Gospel, John says that “six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.” Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, habitually opened up their home to Jesus and His disciples. Their home was a place where He could unwind and relax from His intense ministry. A deep friendship existed between them, and they were recipients of one of Jesus’ greatest miracles, if not the greatest. Lazarus had fallen ill and died, and after laying in the tomb for four days, Jesus restored him to life. Jesus knew that His glorious reception by the crowds of people on Palm Sunday was not going to last long. He knew that horrific suffering and death awaited Him at the end of the week. He needed to fortify Himself for what was to come. He needed friendship, and He experienced it with this family.
Even in the safety of this family, Evil lurked. Judas the Iscariot, “one of His disciples, and the one who would betray Him” challenged Him under the pretext of aiding the poor. Mary, Lazarus’ sister had anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil. John says that Judas cared nothing about the poor but, “because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.” Jesus did not get into an argument with Judas but knew His betrayer was by His side.
The respite that Jesus found with Lazarus refreshed Him. It was time; however, to move more deeply into the mysteries that awaited Him. During this Holy Week, may we accompany Jesus on His journey. May we remember His incredible love for us that brought Him to Holy Thursday and the institution of the Eucharist for us; Good Friday and His redeeming Passion and Death and ultimately His Resurrection and the promise of new life for us on Easter Sunday. Brother Andre Mathieu, C.P.I H