Urgency, Tragedy, Sorrow and Hope!
By: Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson
Vicar, St. Stephen’s, Wahiawa
Chaplain, Iolani Guild
President, Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center
For: March 29,2020 | Liturgy of the Word
Collect: Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. – John 11:1-45
The Gospel lesson today, features Lazarus and his two sisters, a not unfamiliar narrative, we know they were close friends of Jesus. In the emotive conflict that ensues Lazarus is seriously ill, and Jesus summoned with urgency to come and heal him! Our coronavirus eyes enable a connection to the plot that thickens.
Here today we have a story of urgency, tragedy, and sorrow. In the stages of death and dying, the inevitable occurs, but then the most amazing thing happens, Jesus too late in arrival adapts to raise Lazarus from the dead, calling him forth from a dark cold tomb, the stone rolled away, he was all wrapped up in burial cloth, a mummy in disguise, and needed help with his wrappings, when he walked out of his death into the light or a new day!
Here we have a preview of the resurrection to come in Jesus, as he declares that he is the resurrection and the life.
Nothing can be more certain than this story when added to the Easter resurrection of Jesus, that Jesus is the way the truth and the life.
This is a story in which attention must be given to Jesus who arrives late on the scene and wept with tears in his eyes, those tears were tears of compassion!
I visited the site of the Oklahoma Bomb blast many years ago, where many lives were needlessly lost. A friend of mine had lost her husband, in the blast he was instantly gone! The sorrow and sadness was like a heavy stone in the hearts and lives of many families and friends of those who were killed or injured. Who will who can roll away that immovable stone? I will never forget the tears of that day and the heavy weight of grief. Hawaiians say kaumaha:
1. nvs. Heavy; weight, heaviness. Fig. , sad, wretched, dismal, dreary, downcast, troubled, depressed; grief….
But you know years later a memorial was built at that same Oklahoma Bomb site, and remarkably a statue of Jesus weeping was part of that memorial. Yes Jesus wept! Now when I think of that statue of Jesus, weeping, his hands, covering his face, weeping in a place of human tragedy, I am deeply reminded of the great love and mercy, and forgiveness that we have in Him. He whose imagined image on being crucified on a cross, remains our hope and salvation.
Today, I believe that Jesus is weeping even now, in this darkness of the CoronaVirus, which is sweeping through the world, creating sickness and death! Yes Jesus is weeping, in the midst of the pain and confusion, giving guidance, providing courage, empowering those who are serving, Jesus is the healing and reconciling force in it all, you will find him behind the many overused masks and in the tattered gowns of the nurses and doctors, in the ambulances, sweeping the Hospital floors, or driving the garbage trucks, yes Jesus is there to lift up the down trodden, to take the yoke, to call forth from death into life!
I must believe as in our Gospel lesson today, that in these uncertain times of global pandemic, from the sorrow will come joy, from the darkness will come light, and from the tears will come hope and a much greater love for each other and humanity.
It is time now for all of us to dwell on these things, the words, and actions, and sacrifice of Jesus, do not lose heart or be too troubled, but believe anew, and let hope arise, to give us the new beginning we desire.
Jesus on the cross will soon be in front of us in the Good Friday that is coming, Jesus on the cross is the response of God to the ills of the world, the sin, that is a virus to humanity, in Jesus God gives us the cure, and the reconciliation to the brokenness of humanity. In Jesus the new day that dawns, and the resurrection that we have in him is ours to keep. We must hold to the reality that: He is the way the truth and the life! Amen!