April 25, 2013

  • Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark
  • Isaiah 65:8-17
  • Genesis 46:1-7
  • Proverbs 23:15-24:5
  • “Here I am”

    Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.”
    (Genesis 46:2)
    …[When] I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.”
    (Isaiah 65:12)

    Patriarch Jacob
    Patriarch Jacob

    Today we have an exquisite contrast that puts to us some searching questions here at the end of Great Lent. Am I listening for God’s direction? Am I willing to say, “Here I am”? Is what I choose to do a delight to the Lord?

    When I read passages about God in the Old Testament I often think of Aslan in The Narnia Chronicles, “He’s not a tame lion.” If we are tempted get all sleepy and sentimental about God, there’s nothing like this cold biblical bath to shake us awake. Our liturgical services often do the same, with a mix of realism and hope. There is no better commentary today than last night’s hymns as we follow Lazarus.

    I am rich in passions;
    I am wrapped in the false robe of hypocrisy.
    Lacking self-restraint, I delight in self-indulgence.
    I show a boundless lack of love.
    I see my mind cast down before the gates of repentance,
    starved of true goodness and sick with inattention.
    But make me like Lazarus, who was poor in sin,
    lest I receive no answer when I pray,
    no finger dipped in water to relieve my burning tongue; //
    and make me dwell in Abraham’s bosom in Your love for mankind!

    When Jesus was walking in the flesh beyond the River Jordan,
    He said to His companions:
    “My friend Lazarus is already dead and buried,
    but I rejoice for your sake, my friends.
    By his death you will learn that I know all, for I am God,
    even though I appear by nature as a man.
    Let us go and give life to him,
    so that death may truly know my victory
    and the total destruction I shall make of it, //
    as I grant to the world my great mercy!”

    Let us imitate Mary and Martha, O faithful!
    Let us offer divine deeds to the Lord as intercessors,
    so that when He comes He may raise up our minds,
    for now they lie dead and feel no fear of God.
    They are deprived of all vital energy,
    unaware of their own inaction.
    Let us cry: “O Lord, Who once had compassion on Your friend Lazarus,
    and raised him up by Your awesome presence and authority,
    so now give life to us all, //
    and grant to us Your great mercy!”

    Now Lazarus has been in the tomb two days,
    seeing the dead of all the ages,
    beholding strange sights of terror:
    countless multitudes bound by the chains of hell.
    His sisters weep bitterly as they gaze at his tomb,
    but Christ is coming to bring His friend to life,
    to implement in this one man His plan for all. //
    Blessed are You, O Savior!  Have mercy on us!

    * * *

    It’s so normal now, but I am still amazed that I can be in Ottawa at a Honda dealership waiting for my car to be repaired (a recall notice about a door-lock sticking in cold weather), and at the same time be reading these scriptural and liturgical texts online, writing, emailing and on the phone.  And—Canadians will appreciate this—enjoying a coffee from Tim Horton’s.