"He became perturbed and deeply troubled"

"He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Sir, come and see.'
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, 'See how he loved him.' But some of them said, 'Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?'
(John 11:33-37)
On the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we read about the last of Jesus' great miracles in John's Gospel: the raising of Lazarus (see the USCCB website for the complete readings for this Sunday).

This is one of my favorite Gospel passages to use at funerals and wakes, but maybe not for the reason you might think. Of course, this miracle has great theological significance: Jesus has power even over life and death. It shows, beyond any shadow of doubt, that Jesus is Lord and God.

Yet the story also shows us something deeply important about the Lord's humanity.

Faith and Heartbreak

Both Mary and Martha are faithful disciples, as was their brother Lazarus. Both of the women are understandably distraught at the death of their brother. Martha comes out to question him, yet Mary--the one who was closest to him, sitting at his feet and listening to his words--stays back.

She is too heartbroken to face him. Jesus has to call for her.

When she does meet the Lord, she makes a profoundly sad statement of faith:
"When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" (John 11:32)
Why would the Lord allow such a thing to happen to someone he loves?

True Compassion

The word compassion comes from the Latin 'cum passio', to 'suffer with someone'. In the Lord's reaction to Mary, we see his true compassion for those that he loves. He doesn't dismiss her with platitudes, or tell her to dry her tears.

Rather, as we see in verses 33-37 (at the top of the post), the Lord has a very different reaction. He was "perturbed and deeply troubled". The Lord in his humanity joins his heart with that of his grieving disciple.
"And Jesus wept."
(John 11:35)
The shortest and most beautiful verse in the Gospels. His Sacred Heart is broken with hers. The eyes of the Divine Savior shed human tears.

God With Us

We have a God who sees our pain and weeps with us. We may not always be able to understand the trials and tribulations we are going through. We may not have an answer to why God allows terrible things to happen to good people. As the mourners say in the Gospel: "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?".

Everyone, believer or not, has to struggle with these questions. But we, as Christians, are bearers of a profound truth: Our God is with us. He walks with us, even through the darkness.

In him we will triumph, even over death itself.

The first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel and the second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Romans both echo that hope. Even in the midst of suffering and death, the Lord will have the victory...and we will be victorious with him.

So as we walk the path of a very dark Lent this year, be assured that, like Mary, the Lord sees our struggles and your pain--that he weeps with us. More importantly, be assured of the glorious Resurrection of which you have been given a share.

The Lord is victorious. We will be too.

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