Archive for the ‘Lectio Divina’ Category

REFLECTION: The silence and slowness of God…

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

 

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany; the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”  John 11: 1-6

Like many others, I have heard and read this scripture passage many times with very little effect.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday, through the process of Lectio Divina, our Father revealed something deeper than I could have imagined.

Did you notice something odd in the scripture passage?  Notice that it was Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha, who had beckoned Him to come to their brother’s aid.  The content of their message was, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  Although they knew the depth of the friendship they shared, perhaps by reminding Jesus of his love for their brother, he would come more quickly.  Notice that the author, the Apostle St. John, also very clearly indicates that Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus.  And yet, as if it was the normal thing to do, he writes, “So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

What was wrong with Jesus?!?  Did he forget who his friends were?  Didn’t he remember the people he loved… the people closest to his heart?  Even John knew his affection for these folks!  Didn’t it register in Jesus’ mind that someone he loved was dying?  What were Mary and Martha thinking?  They must have wondered what was taking him so long.  They knew he loved each of them.  Did this delay lead them to doubt  the sincerity of his love?

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  We know God loves us.  He even promises that He is always with us and that He would never leave us.  And yet, there are times when we feel so abandoned, alone, rejected and betrayed.

As my reflection deepened, the memory of two mothers I had specifically been interceding for came to mind.  One has a beautiful 20 year old daughter who is bipolar and who, at times, is taunted with suicidal thoughts.  The other has a daughter who suffers from a rare genetic defect and who is also tormented with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The latter had shared that she and her daughter had just about lost hope.

During my waking hours and during my sleepless nights, my prayers are lifted for them during those moments when God puts them in my heart.  I plead and beg for each mother; I plead and beg for each child… remembering the many years when I had pled for my own.  I remind our Father that I know He loves each of them so much and I plead for Him to give them minute miracles so that they can continue on.  I ask for his compassion and I beg him to give them the extra-ordinary graces that they need so that they don’t give up and they continue to hold on to Him.  And many times I beg him to “please hurry” and to “please let each one sense His presence even at the moment”.

And then I am reminded that I am not their mother.  Knowing that our Father only gives me a taste of their misery so I can intercede for them, my heart breaks when I realize how much anguish these moms go through.  In solidarity with them for the love of our children, God encourages me to pray even more.

There is still another who felt totally abandoned in the midst of his grief and agony.  Jesus, isolated and distanced from those he loved as he hung on the cross, agonized to vocalize his misery as he whispered through His bloodied, bruised and swollen lips… “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Matt 27:46   Although without sin, Jesus willingly took on all the sins of the world, knowing that it (sin)  would completely block him from His Father and He would be left to die on the cross… totally alone.

Did you hear His anguished cry?  He felt abandoned.  He must have called and called out for the Father as He hung on the cross.  He must have yearned even for a whisper, a simple sign to show Him that the Father was still with Him.  And yet, all He heard was silence…

But wait, Jesus was still God, wasn’t He?  He still had the power to come down from that cross!  And yet He remained there, silently submitting His will to the Father.

“Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”…  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of his sleep.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  John 11: 7-8; 11-18

The disciples had warned Jesus not to return to Judea because the Jews had intended to stone Him.  Was that the reason why they didn’t resist when he said they were going to stay on for two more days?  Was Jesus afraid and was that why He didn’t come to the aid of His friend immediately?  Perhaps it was safer to wait for 2 days so the anger and volatility of the Jewish crowds could settle before they returned.  But was that 2 days of waiting what caused Lazarus to die?   Let’s do the math.  Jesus waited for 2 more days and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had already been dead 4 days.  When Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary, each of them had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21/32.  Was there truth in what they said?  It sounds logical to blame Jesus, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, let’s examine the passage again.  When Jesus decided to set off after the second day, didn’t he mention that Lazarus had already died?  Even if he left immediately, foot travel would not have gotten Him there on time.

 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.  John 11:38-45

Mary and Martha and, perhaps, even Lazarus didn’t expect him to die.  It was evident the two women blamed Jesus’ delay for the death.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, however, He knew something greater was ahead which was not yet privy to the human world.

Wasn’t it strange that Jesus said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”?  And later He said, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Believe what?

In His sermons, Jesus said , “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6  Jesus claimed to be the divine son of God.  Although His friends felt betrayed that He did not prevent Lazarus from dying, the miracle that He would perform in bringing this very man back to life would support His claim that He was the true God who had come down to earth to save mankind.

And “many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him”.  John 11:45

Father God, we thank You for always standing by our side and never leaving us.  At times the turmoil in our lives block you from our senses and we fail to hear you or even sense your presence.  Lord, we ask that You bless us with the same faith Jesus had when he felt so abandoned on the cross.  Although He was in immense pain and he could no longer carry on, he trusted You and knew that You had a plan that was bigger and better than what we in this world could imagine.  Thank you for dying for us Lord Jesus and for being the bridge back to the Father’s heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 5, 2014