The church of St. Lazarus at Bethany is one of the most impressive churches I have ever visited in the Holy Land. This church serves to commemorate the Saint’s resurrection from the dead. It also represents how the Gospels relate regarding Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary who were honored by the special friendship of the Lord.
Martha was known by her hospitality, welcoming Jesus into her house and serving Him, while Mary was known by her contemplation at the feet of Jesus, for she is sitting, listening and loving Him. And the Lord claims she has chosen the better part which cannot be taken from her (Luke 10:38-42).
While being in the church, rather, I was anxious to see the tomb of the Saint nearby. The tomb was narrow and only one person can enter one at a time. I bent down my head to enter the tomb. If Lazarus entered the tomb as a dead man and came out alive, I had not yet been dead and entered the tomb, I came out alive too! I asked myself, what did I experience while I was in the tomb of the Saint? Where is my destination? Where is my final resting place?
Our Christian faith goes beyond these questions. Martha, friend of the Lord, had seen the great glory when she put her strong faith in Jesus after her brother’s death: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life... Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-27). Two thousand years ago, at this very site, Jesus came and raised the dead Lazarus back to life. God’s power is over death and beyond human imagination. There is nothing we can think of that is greater than God. Only through faith one can experience divine power in Jesus Christ.
Right above at the entrance of the tomb, there is a few sentences written in English and in German on a small board. Allow me to quote here:
“The glory of God shall be seen by those who put their faith in Jesus in times of greatest distress and hopelessness, they are certain that He is greater than any distress, even greater than death itself.”
We are all invited to become friends of the Lord by welcoming our brothers and sisters into our house. In turn, Christ will welcome us into His kingdom. May Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus pray for us.
Reflection by Br. Peter Damian Tran, July 29, 2020.