THIS ILLNESS IS NOT UNTO DEATH
“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. 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?’” (Jn 11: 1-8)
On this final, sixth week of Lent, (the “forty” days of which do not include Great Week), the texts of the Lenten Triodion follow the story of the illness, death, and raising from the dead of Lazarus, which we will celebrate this upcoming Saturday, preceding Palm Sunday. It’s the story of how the Lord behaves incomprehensibly, tarrying “in the place where he was,” while in Bethany His friend Lazarus falls ill and dies, to the great sorrow of his family and community. What was the Lord doing? They did not understand, at the point in the story quoted above. The Lord Himself knew that He was doing something new; that He was about to bring not only Lazarus, but all of us, new life. And He was going to do that by the way of the Cross, by trampling death “by death.” But His followers understood none of this, at the time.
As the Coronavirus-pandemic ravages many of our cities and communities, it seems that the Lord tarries. What is He doing? I don’t know. But He says to us this week, as He said ca. two millennia ago: “This illness is not unto death.” Let me follow where Christ is leading us these final days of Lent, that I, whom He loves, may be raised to new life, in Him. “Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.” Happy Monday of the 6th Week of Lent, or beginning of Great Week, my friends! Tune in to our daily, weekday "Morning Coffee" audio-podcasts, for some daily inspiration on your Lenten journey, and through this Coronavirus epidemic! Join our ca. 500 faith-inspired subscribers at: patreon.com/sistervassa. Love from Vienna, and please wash your hands & take heart, Sister Vassa