Epistle (3 Kings 17:17-24)
In those days the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and the sickness was very grievous, so that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elias: What have I to do with thee, thou man of God? Art thou come to me that my iniquities should be remembered, and that thou shouldst kill my son? And Elias said to her Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him into the upper chamber where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried to the Lord, and said: Lord my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son? And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body. And the Lord heard the voice of Elias: and the soul of the child returned into him, and he revived. And Elias took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber to the house below, and delivered him to his mother, and said to her: Behold thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elias: Now, by this I know that thou art a man of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.
We can make the same meditation on this epistle as on that of yesterday. In book we see now the hospitality shown to the servants of God is rewarded with the greatest miracles. The Eternal Truth, therefore, says, Give, and it shall be given to you. We observe, further, how the two prophets both stretched and measured themselves upon the children whom they restored to life. Thus also did St. Paul, when he brought back to life the young man Eutyches, who had fallen down from a high window. In like manner, according to the testimony of St. Gregory, did St. Benedict when he restored a child to life. The mystery of this action points to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who took a body like ours, in order to impart life to our souls, which were dead through sin, and to make our bodies like his in glory and majesty. Jesus Christ, therefore, being the reality to which these figures referred, does not observe such formalities. As Lord, he commands, and the dead arise.
The prophets stretched themselves upon the children several times, whereby we learn to be persevering in prayer.
To the humility and the spirit of Penance with which this widow accuses herself as the cause of her child’s death, St. Theodoret ascribes the grace of his restoration to life by the prophet Elias. Remember that God despises not an humble and contrite heart, bear the afflictions with which he visits you, in humble patience and in the spirit of penance, until it please Him to take them from you.
Gospel (St. John 11:1-45)
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. And 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 lie seeth the light of this world: but if lie walk in the night he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. These things he said; and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of 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 sakes, 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 hath 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 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 come 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 say 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 lie is now of four days.
Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou wilt 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 nearest me always, but liecanse 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 did, believed in him.
By the marvelous raising of Lazarus, Christ shows His divinity and strengthens our belief in a future resurrection of the body, as St. Ambrose writes: “Why did Jesus go to the grave and cry out in a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth, if He did not wish to give testimony of the future resurrection?” The Holy Fathers also regard the raising of Lazarus as a type of the resurrection of the sinner from the sleep of sin, which takes place when he confesses his sins with contrition and is loosed by the priests from their bonds. Beseech the Lord that with a loud voice He may cry to you and all sinners (and that you will obey): “Come forth, awake from the sleep of sin, confess your sins and live forever!”
Jesus restores to life Lazarus, whose sickness and death he had known beforehand, the sickness being allowed as chastisement for sin and in order that God’s goodness and glory might be made known. Behold the all-knowing God, Lord over life and death. Adore Him, and seek assistance from Him in your spiritual and temporal need.
The sisters address to Him prayers, short, indeed, but full of faith. “Thy brother shall rise again”, said Jesus, and he arose. We also may have His assistance, to be saved from the death of the soul, we may also one day rise again to life, teaches the Son of God.
What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?