+Fr. David Bissias, Saint Demetrios - Hammond, IN | April 7, 2020
Lazarus falls sick that You, Son of God, may be glorified through him; and Your works praise You, Lord, without ceasing.
—Triodion, 8th Ode, Tuesday of the Sixth Week
This year, the feast will not be celebrated as we normally do. The Covid-19 Pandemic prevents us, but this does not mean that we will not glorify God and praise him in the Church.
Two elements are of special note in the Gospel account of Lazaros’ raising. First, the Lord delays going to his friend despite knowing of his illness and impending death. It is not for lack of love or care, but so that God may be glorified. Second, the Evangelist makes it clear that the statement “Jesus wept” is not meant for Lazaros alone. The bystanders and mourners, including his dear friends Martha and Mary, misunderstand his tears. They are due to the agitation and trembling Jesus has on seeing the lament and suffering of the mourners. It is the hurt and suffering that death—our true enemy—causes to which the Lord responds with tears. The raising of Lazaros is meant to show those people—wounded to the heart, but also misunderstanding who Jesus truly is—that Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be: the Life and Resurrection of the world.
We may not be able this year to gather together to praise God at liturgy as we would want, but this does not mean that our “liturgy” cannot continue. The Lord is still working, but through his faithful that comprise his Body, the Church. Our “hope and resurrection” is present, but in and through us.
Though not the liturgy we exercise in church, with the Lord, in the Lord, and for the Lord there is still work to do, for “liturgy” means the “work of the people.” The Church continues his ministry in the world: for now, we are called to pray in our homes with our families, to do our part in preventing the spread of the virus, in our assistance to family and friends with words of encouragement and consolation, and above all in charity so needed now in these difficult days. There are many ways we continue the ministry of our Lord.
This period in our world is an opportunity to glorify God. The Lord is our Resurrection, and not only on the “last day,” but everyday even as we, in times of affliction and pain, “look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the ages to come” (the Creed). Therefore, let us “be of good cheer!” Indeed, the Lord is with us!