Holy Manna: March 26, 2023

Holy Manna: A Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Read: John 11:1-45

Jesus wept.

I will pass over some puzzling features of this text to note that when Jesus – who had delayed by two days his journey to Lazarus’ side – eventually got to the home of Mary and Martha, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, and the mourners were keening and wailing. Jesus wept.

Yes, Martha had run out to meet Jesus before he arrived on the scene, and Martha had heard Jesus say “your brother will rise again.” Even with this hope for Lazarus in his heart, a hope he shared with Martha, Jesus wept.

The Book of Common Prayer contains a “note” on the burial liturgy which acknowledges that the rites for burial are Easter rites and are thus characterized by joy. “This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian,” the note continues. “The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death, because Jesus wept at the grave of his friend.”

So, as the Letter to the Romans counsels, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” So we are to let ourselves cry. Let others cry. Share grief, without uttering platitudes to one another.

And in our hearts, we nurture the hope expressed in one of the prayers of the burial liturgy in which we pray for

“faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by our call, we are reunited with those who have gone before.”

O God, inspire in me the quiet confidence that trusts you even in the face of death, and so establish me in that confidence that I will be free to weep over my losses and the losses of others. Make me a member in truth of Christ’s community of compassion. Amen.
-Fr. Jonathan Weldon