Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Lazarus Incident — or — A Tale of Two Tombs

(From Léon Bonnat, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Léon Bonnat's "The Resurrection of Lazarus.")

The Lazarus incident takes up most of John, chapter 11: but the account doesn't lend itself to paintings or movies. My opinion.

Picking up the narrative after Martha warned Jesus that there'd be a stench when they opened the tomb —
"So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, 'Father, 8 I thank you for hearing me.

"I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.'

"And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, 9 'Lazarus, come out!'

"The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, 'Untie him and let him go.' "
(John 11:41-42)
At the time, some folks didn't believe what they'd seen. Some still don't.

Lazarus, Bible Epics, and All That

I don't remember seeing the raising of Lazarus in those Bible epics. That's understandable.

Given the choice of presenting "a cast of thousands," famous actors, and eye-popping special effects — or Lazarus hopping out of his tomb, with his face still covered — scenes like Moses flinging the Decalogue win, hands down.

Come to think of it, maybe he rolled out of his tomb when Jesus shouted "Lazarus, come out!"

When the boss shouts "come," dawdling isn't prudent.

The Other Empty Tomb

In a way, restoring life to Lazarus was 'more of the same.'

An official's daughter, and a widow's son in Naim, hadn't been buried: but Jesus brought them to back to life, too. (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 7:11-17; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 640, 646)

The big surprise came after the following Passover, when three women went to another tomb with spices. Reports of what happened next aren't entirely consistent. (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:1-18)

Again, that's understandable.

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously imprecise under normal circumstances. Followers of Jesus had seen my Lord executed, and had reasonable fears that the authorities would be after them next. They'd be anything but calm observers.

Then there's what the Catechism calls "the condition of Christ's Risen Humanity."

The official's, daughter, the young man of Naim, and Lazarus, simply returned to an ordinary life. When Jesus left a borrowed tomb, my Lord no longer observed the limits of space and time. (Mark 16:12-14; Luke 24:15-51; John 20:19-23; Catechism, 645-646)

It took a series of meetings and a working lunch to convince the apostles that Jesus had stopped being dead, and that's another topic.

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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.