April 2 , 2017
Fifth Sunday of Lent
“ I am the resurrection and the life , says the Lord ; whoever believes in me , even if he dies , will never die .”
Reflection by Greg Hamilton , currently serving with Jesuit Volunteer Corps
Today ’ s Gospel challenged my understanding of what it means to be compassionate . When Jesus learned that a loved one was ill , He responded in a peculiar manner . He didn ’ t rush to the sick one ’ s side or hurry to comfort His beloved ’ s family . Rather , He waited two days .
Why did He wait two days ? I sure wouldn ’ t have done that . If He knew all along that He would raise Lazarus , why would He prolong the wounded agony of Mary and Martha ? How could Jesus desert those He loved in their moment of need ? It seems almost like a test , a cruel and unnecessary test .
Yet I suspect Jesus had a different intention . By waiting two extra days He was not punishing or testing Mary and Martha but inviting them to examine their own brokenness . The idea of resting in brokenness , rather than avoiding it , has been a particularly challenging concept for me . I first encountered it in Bryan Stevenson ’ s book Just Mercy , in which Stevenson says “ We can embrace our humanness , which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing . Or we can deny our brokenness , forswear compassion , and , as a result , deny our own humanity .”
It seems that Jesus chose the former . When He finally arrived in Bethany and witnessed the woundedness of those He loved , He “ became perturbed and deeply troubled .” Then , “ Jesus wept .” Knowing that Jesus wept helps me reclaim my own brokenness and affirms that truly embodying compassion requires entering into the chaos of woundedness , both my own and that of the “ other ” person .
God of grace , help me rest in my woundedness . When I feel most alone and deserted , remind me of Jesus ’ constant refrain “ Do not be afraid .” Help me remember that Jesus Himself , the almighty Son of God , wept for the pain of His community . Let me never forget that one of Jesus ’ greatest miracles of raising Lazarus from the dead was precipitated by His solidarity in suffering with those He loved dearly . Amen .
Focus on : Social Justice : How have you been wounded by the , as Dr . Martin Luther King Jr . puts it , “ sickness of racism , excessive materialism , and militarism ?” How can you – and your surrounding communities – enter into this brokenness and encounter healing compassion ?
Service Inspiration : My mother , Sue , understands part of my volunteer experience , but struggles with other components . However , I recently babysat for a colleague ’ s children , a two-and-a-half year old and a six-month old . When I left , I was exhausted . I realized later that I watched two boys the same age difference as my brother and I , but only for a few hours . My mom did it for years , and then became my teacher and homeschooled us . She served as an enormous role model , never asking for thanks or recognition , silently taking on her children ’ s struggles . She is an inspiration and reminder of Jesus here on Earth .
Greg attended Saint Michael ’ s College in the grace-filled Green Mountain State of Vermont and is currently serving as a Jesuit Volunteer in Washington D . C . at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth . Most days , Greg finds a way to involve his favorite poet , Mary Oliver , in his routine .
Lenten Reflection Guide - Ash Wednesday , February 18 , 2015