We often miss the simple way that the story begins, Lazarus became terminally ill in Bethany. Jesus wanted to come and bring him both healing and hope. Lazarus was a very old and close friend, but his home was near Jerusalem and Jesus was being kept out of Judea by the religious authorities. The greatest comfort the dying man’s family could have received, missed the funeral by four days. On arriving, Jesus wept. In this time of travel restrictions, I am thinking that Jesus had been weeping for many days.
I had made plans to fly out West to see my elderly mother and recently hospitalized brother this Sunday. Then the virus put us all in limbo. My concerns for their health and safety heightened with each news report. The bad fall my brother had taken at the end of February broke ribs and damaged his lungs. Both he and my mother had multiple pre-existing conditions. The verse, “And Jesus wept,” resonates with me.
Understanding the practical wisdom behind restricting the spread of the coronavirus, doesn’t alleviate my soul wearying worry. We speak of how Jesus had compassion. This would seem a shallow claim if it weren’t for the times we see him walking the very same path that we are on. From his retreat on the wrong side of the Jordan, he receives the news. Lazarus is near death. The timing is bad. Jesus must enter Jerusalem during the Passover festival in order to fulfill his mission. So, he was forced to wait. Being divine did not change the human dynamics of his situation. He wept.
Couldn’t he have done something? I’m sure Jesus considered various options. Last week, I debated about taking the car and driving out to be with my loved ones. To heck with travel restrictions. Now, I am thinking that if things get worse and one of them passes, I may, like Jesus, miss the funeral. Why? Because faith requires us to live ethically and in community, even when it breaks our heart. There are three rules that we must follow:
1)Always be compassionate. Visiting my family may make me feel better, but it would put them at greater risk.
2)Awareness beats ignorance. I listen to the recommendations of the health experts. I keep aware of what is needs to be done to flatten the curve of this global pandemic.
3)The ends don’t justify the means. I will not endanger others in order to get what I want. My life needs to be lived in a healthy and mindful way each and every day. In crisis and out. Faith is a process. No goal is worth disrupting that process.
In time, I will read again the story of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. But today, I need to hear how Jesus chose to remain far away from those he loved.