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tidings of peace. For an instant, as Martha lifts the sudarium from the head of that dear brother now come back from death, Mary looks up to see the disfigurement and discolourment of the grave roll away, like a shadow, across his living features. And lo! he is there in the beauty of his revived manhood, a very image, a God-made image of his Creator and Redeemer in Whose presence he stands.
The stars, the Prophet writes, the stars have given light in their watches and rejoiced. They were called, and they said: Here we are: and with cheerfulness they have shined forth to Him that made them. This is our God, and there shall no other be accounted of in comparison of Him (Baruch iii.). So is it now.
Lazarus is called from out of the depths, and out of the depths he answers his Redeemer, “ Here I am,” and he comes forth from the grave, and with cheerfulness ineffable raises his eyes that they may shine forth to Him that made them and has now given back to them their sight.
Very soon, now that he is unbound, he is with Martha at the side of Mary and at the feet of Jesus, and their secret hearts are all saying: This is our God, there shall no other be accounted of in comparison of Him. O good Lord Jesus, in this hour there is more than one come back to give Thee thanks. There are none to go away thankless.
B. Did you mark—the disciples might say to each other afterwards—the Master's loud, clear voice ? How it sounded like music from Heaven ! It was, as the Psalm says, the voice of the Lord in power; the voice of the Lord in magnificence (Psalm xxviii.). The tongues of men, the tongues of angels, could not, I think, reproduce the tones of that voice.
C. Did our Blessed Lady hear that loud cry? She was often with her Divine Son during His Public Life; and as the End is now drawing near, may we not safely assume that she is there on the hill-side, her heart also crying out: Lazarus, come forth? “O men, living or dead, :
my Son shall say to you, do ye.” Can it be that Holy Mary is not there helping them in this hour to say fittingly and becomingly a canticle like her own: My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour ?
D. The blessed angels also are listening in an ecstasy of contentment. For well they know that this is only the beginning of what the voice of God made Man is to do on earth.
E. And the loud clear voice is heard too by the princes of darkness, and scatters these proud spirits in the conceit of their heart (St. Luke i.).
F. But why does our Saviour cry out with so loud a voice? Would not a whisper from Him have reached Lazarus and awakened him from the sleep of death ? When the End shall come, will not the voice of the Archangel and the sound of his trumpet bring up all the dead, great and small, into the presence of the throne? In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall rise (1 Cor. xv.). As before, so now also, our Lord is thinking of us, the people who stand by.
When, two years ago, He healed the palsied man in Capharnaum, it was that all might see that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins. Now, too, He knows well that this resurrection is only a picture, an image of that resurrection of the dead souls of sinners which is soon to be effected from the rising of the sun to its setting, and from sundown to the dawn. And well too He knows how much the resurrection of the sinner will cost Him; that He will have to put forth the might of His arm to undo and conquer and cancel the fatal work of sin; that the word of power which His minister is to utter in His Name will in very truth be the voice of the Lord in power, the voice of the Lord in magnificence. He wishes to impress on us that a loud cry indeed is needed to awaken the sinner from his sleep of death.
G. The multitudes that saw the palsied man rise and walk, glorified God that gave such power to men. As we listen
to the loud cry of Jesus, Lazarus, come forth, shall we not make hearty acts of thanksgiving for the heavenly power given to poor men to say, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, I absolve thee. Go in peace." What wonder that Zealous confessors exhort their penitents to say from their hearts after confession the beautiful psalm, Bless the Lord, O my soul, Who forgiveth all thy iniquities (Psalm cii.).
H. Mark, too, how Lazarus comes out of the tomb with his grave-clothes still on him, and the swathing bands still binding him.
“ Attendite.” O all ye who pass by, stay a little while to look at this picture. For it is even so oftentimes that we come out from the Sacred Tribunal of Penance. By a valid absolution we are raised to life assuredly. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath (our Redeemer) removed our grievous iniquity from us.
But the graveclothes of past habits may be still around us; and the bands of many usual venial sins may still be depriving us of the full liberty of the children of God, so that we come out of the confessional, at times, faint and feeble, and the spark of heavenly life within us needs most careful nursing, lest it be put out.
The Jews, when_they embalmed their dead, did it less thoroughly than the Egyptians. So that commonly in their hot climate, after a short time decomposition began within the grave, and the corpse became an image of the sinner's dead soul, all life and beauty gone, and hideous corruption set in. Hence the sensitive terror of Martha when the grave of her beloved brother was to be opened. Hence too, perhaps, the fear of the devout women on Calvary that enough had not been done by Nicodemus and Joseph for the embalming of the body of their Lord.
I. Observe, before retiring from the grave, the calm, tranquil fortitude of our Saviour, Who knows full well that in this hour, by this public manifestation of His power, He is signing His own death-warrant. In earlier days, when He worked wonders, He sometimes sought concealment. Tell the vision to no man (St. Matt. xvii.). See thou tell no man what was done (St. Luke viii.). But there is a time for concealment and a time for publicity. The hour of the great death-struggle is come. The time for secrecy is gone by. There is around the grave to-day a large gathering from Galilee and Judea ripe for grace.
J. Loose him, and let him go. In a special manner this Divine commission is given to priests. But, thanks to the great charity of our Lord, every one is allowed to share in the Divine work of loosing the poor sinner and enabling him to walk well up the mountain of God. To all of us, without exception, our Saviour says by His Prophet : Loose the bands of wickedness; undo the bundles that oppress ; let them that are broken go free ; and break asunder every burden. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am (Isaias lviii.).
Reflect upon yourself: Am I using my working-day diligently? Am I helping Catholics and Protestants to rise from the grave, and to get rid of their grave-clothes ?
My time is short. Have I reason to fear that at my death my Saviour may be obliged to say to me, in sorrow unspeakable : The weak you have not strengthened, and that which was sick you have not healed: that which is broken you have not bound up, and that which was driven away you have not brought back; neither have you sought that which was lost? (Ezechiel xxxiv.).
Many, therefore, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had
seen the things that Jesus did, believed in Him (v. 45).
A. How good a thing it is to be the friend, or kinsman, of the holy who are friends of Jesus Christ !
Mark how many are brought to Jesus through these two sisters and their holy brother. What an unspeakable joy it is to Mary and Martha and Lazarus to see so many of their friends and companions beginning to believe in their Divine Master!
Do those act wisely who by mixed marriages and by courting companionship with the worldly, become partners with them, and throw in their lot with those who are not at all dear to our Lord ?
B. As they go home from the grave, how different all is from that hour when they came to bury Lazarus : Going they went and wept. But coming they shall come with joyfulness. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted (St. Matt. v.). How joyful the hour when Jesus calls from grief and desolation to peace and gladness! Still more when He calls the Holy Soul from the prison of Purgatory to his home in Heaven. But most of all when with a loud voice He calls the sinful soul out of death to heavenly life. Then there is great joy in Heaven.
THE HOUSE OF CAIPHAS AND THE ROAD TO IT.
But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the
things which Jesus had done (St. John xi. 46).
The house of Caiphas, Joseph Caiphas as he is called by the historian Josephus, stood at the south-west corner of Jerusalem, within the walls, and very near the Cænaculum, or Supper-Chamber, where our Blessed Saviour celebrated the Last Supper. The house probably formed one wing of the Palace of the Priests; and was connected by long galleries and halls with the other wing, in which stood the house of Annas.
The High Priest in Jerusalem formerly held his office for life; but the Romans, though they respected Jewish laws and customs to a certain extent, yet, when it suited their convenience, treated the Jews and their religion with contempt. They had made their despotic power felt by frequently deposing the High Priests, and substituting others in place of the deposed. Annas was the last of those who had held office legitimately. The Romans had deposed him; but he was still looked upon by many as the High Priest de jure. He was considered to be one well versed in the Law; and he was the prime mover in all the machinations against our Lord. His son-in-law, Joseph Caiphas, had been raised by the Romans to the office of High Priest, and was entirely under the influence of Annas.