Daily Reflection
April 9th, 2001
John Horn, S.J.
Institute for Priestly Formation
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Monday of Holy Week 
Isaiah 42:1-7
Psalms 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
John 12:1-11

“Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the village of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  There they gave him a banquet, at which Martha served.  Lazarus was one of those at table with him.”

John 12:1-11

It is so helpful to pray with the imagination of our hearts.  The capacity of our imagination can fly off into wild fantasy and self-absorbing illusion, or it can relate with and sense reality, God’s presence loving us in and through all things.  This latter posture is not self enclosed or controlling, rather it is one of humble, self-emptying receptivity to Jesus’ Spirit. 

If we prayerfully place the imagination of our hearts with Lazarus in this Biblical scene, we can experience insight and new life in Jesus’ Spirit.  “Lazarus” in Hebrew means “God helps.”  And, it is good to recall that Lazarus was one of Jesus’ intimate friends.  It is also good to wonder what was transpiring in Lazarus’ heart at the banquet after having been raised from the dead and having to die again sometime in the future.  Surely, there was breathtaking gratitude for his new life, unbounded amazement and fierce loyalty for Jesus’ all powerful love that “helped” in the middle of death itself.  The food at the banquet must have tasted especially delicious.  The costly ointment that was used to anoint Jesus’ feet must have carried a particularly sweet aroma, and seeing Mary’s tears must have touched Lazarus’ heart with an extra sense of being loved.  He must have carried a new confidence, too, in the face of future dying within Christ’s love.

Tasting the truth that, with Jesus, death yields new life, awakens Lazarus’ spiritual senses in the imagination of his heart.  He experiences more of reality, more of God’s love “helping.”  His seeing, smelling and hearing are more alive.

If we think of events that brought us to taste death in some real way, we can revisit this Biblical scene as a Lazarus figure.  Perhaps we were dead due to sin?  Perhaps we are aware of the existential deaths that we are asked to embrace this day as we struggle to accept our Christ-like human limits?  The truth that is Lazarus’ can be ours as we receive anew God’s love helping us amid our dyings.  The deaths that we are passing through today with Jesus’ Spirit can be experienced in hopefulness and with a great confidence in the power of Jesus’ resurrecting love.  May we not choose the hellishness of self-enclosure amid our fears.  May we turn inwardly, in the imagination of our hearts, to receive Jesus’ care awakening our senses to taste more life.  Then this Easter we can shout all the louder, “death where is your sting?” for in Jesus Christ death dies and yields fuller life! 

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