FRIDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
GOSPEL. ST. JOHN xi, 1-45.
(Lazarus in the Grave. Jesus is Stripped of His Garments.)
At that time: There was a certain man sick named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and of Martha her sister. (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.) His sisters therefore sent to Him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He still remained in the same place two days: then after that He said to His disciples: Let us go into Judea again. The disciples say, to Him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone Thee: and goest Thou thither again? Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he has the light of the world: but if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. These things He said; and after that He said to them: Lazareth, our friend, sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of the sleep. His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that He spoke of the repose of sleep. Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead; and I am glad for your sake, that I was not there, that you may believe: but let us go to him. Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go that we may die with Him. Jesus therefore came and found that he had been four days already in the grave. (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.) And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus was come, went to meet Him: but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now also I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith to Him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me although he be dead, shall live: and every one that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever. Believest thou this? She saith to Him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is home and calleth for thee. She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly and cometh to Him. For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but He was still in that place where Martha had met Him. The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there. When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing Him, she fell down at His feet, and saith to Him: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Jesus therefore, when He saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled Himself, and said: Where have you laid him? They said to Him: Lord, come and see. And Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said: Behold how He loved him. But some of them said: Could not He that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die? Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the sepulchre: Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to Him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up His eyes said: Father, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the people who stand about have I said it: that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me. When He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus come forth. And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus said, believed in Him.
Consider, O Christian soul, that our Lord permits His friend Lazarus to become sick, to die and to be deprived of all that he had on earth, all but his shroud. Before His own death, Jesus permitted Himself to be stripped even of all His clothes. Learn from this to detach yourself from all the useless and harmful things of which death can rob you. By a worthy confession, purify your soul from every sin, so that your Savior will not be troubled over you, and that He will not need to weep over the misfortune that would befall you, if He could not awaken you to a glorious resurrection.
LET US PRAY.
O God, Who renewest the world by ineffable mysteries, grant we beseech Thee, that Thy Church may profit by Thy eternal precepts and may never be destitute of Thy temporal assistance; through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy divine Son, who wrought so many miracles and Who was so shamefully stripped of His garments. Amen.