Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Stump the Chump Answers...

This week I received two stump the chump questions, so here I go!


Soutenus asked:
"I do not know if we can really know the answer to this one -- maybe I just want another's opinion. Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? Some priests (in homilies) have said it showed Jesus' humanity -- that He was sad about the death of Lazarus. But, what I do not get is -- if Jesus was going to make eternal life possible -- why bring Lazarus back to his earthly life. Won't life in Heaven be so much better? Was it a miracle to prefigure the resurrection He would have? Kind of like a prelude to His death and resurrection? Was Jesus maybe showing people that He had power over death? If it was simply that then why did Jesus weep?

My answer:

There are a large number of points in this Gospel story, and I don't think that I have grasped half of them, but I think a couple major points can answer your question. Of course, God is all-knowing (UN-like me) so only He can really know every "why" to what He does. I think that the main reason Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead was to show to the Jewish people that He really was the Messiah and that He had power even over death itself. He was not just a prophet or "good man", but He was (and is) God Himself. I'm not just saying this as a pure guess either. Read in the story: "When Jesus heard this he said, 'This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.' (John 11:4)

And then later: "So then Jesus said to them clearly, 'Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Le us go to him'" (John 11:14-15)

And: "And Jesus raised his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.' And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!'" (John 11:41b-43)

You do bring a good point asking why Jesus would raise Lazarus back to life when eternal life seems like it would be WAY better, and it is, but Jesus obviously had a bigger picture here. He knew that Lazarus was a holy man and would still be able to obtain eternal life, but Lazarus' resurrection was a huge sign for the increase of Faith among the other people. If you read ahead in John a little bit you will find this interesting verse: "And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him." (John 12:10)

Jesus' humanity is also expressed in this narrative, but I don't think that this is the underlying reason for His actions. I think He expresses His humanity beautifully to us when it says: "When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, 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.'" (John 11:33-36)

So yes, His humanity is shown, but I really don't think this can in any way give us the full reason behind Him raising Lazarus. As the first verse I gave you said, Lazarus' death was already known by Jesus, and Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.

There is also probably a lot more to dig up in these passages as well. Read Chapter 11 verses 19-40 and Jesus has these conversations with Martha and Mary which seem to bring up some important teachings of Jesus. It is within this context that He says: "'I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.'" (John 11:25-26)

Hope that answered that pretty well...

And now the second question is a little easier:

BevansInc asked:

" ...over the past six months or so, readers in our Parish have begun to say "the word of the Lord" or just "word of the Lord" instead of "This is the Word of the Lord" which has been the norm, since I was little. Our priest also now says "the Gospel of the Lord" leaving out the 'this'. I heard it on EWTN in a brodcast they did from a live coverage of Mass somewhere (not EWTN itself) and I just wondered, seeing that it seems 'global' if you know of any specific announcement or change calling for it or if you have come across this new phenomenon yourself, if so, why is it? All of the readers now have changed to this in our Parish and it just got my attention when I heard it from America too! "

Hmmm... I have to say that I can't really remember for sure if I have heard lectors using 'this is...", because I have always heard it just, "The word of the Lord". I could not find the official way to do this in the GIRM, but the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship says: "At the end, the lector makes the acclamation, The Word of the Lord, with all responding, Thanks be to God." I think that should clear it up. Remember that the original Latin would be, "Verbum Domini", translating "The word of the Lord". I am not sure why it was (is?) so common to add the "this is..." before that, but I'm guessing that that was just some creative idea some liturgist came up with that became popular. This is really a minor point though, so I wouldn't go blowing a horn around at your local parish if they do it either way. From what you said, I'm guessing they are just trying to follow Rome more closely on how the Mass is supposed to be said, which is really quite awesome! I hope every church may be so concerned as to follow the rubrics carefully!

Hope that helps....

Think you can stump the chump???


BevansInc said...

Thats fantastic! I'm impressed. Thank you!

bilbannon said...

I'm of the opinion that Christ wept due to the fact that his best friends still did not know who He was in reality. They were Jews who already believed that Eliseus had raised a dead boy (2Kings4)by ritual as had Elias (I Kings 17)by prayer and ritual so in effect...they by not believing that Christ could help if he came after the death....they were implying that Elias and Eliseus were greater than Christ so that they still saw Him as human only.
When Christ did raise Lazarus, He did it by command preceded by a prayer yes but prayer for Christ was intimacy not asking for something He could not do as with the other two...Elias and Eliseus.

Not only did He know Lazarus would die and that He would raise him but he tarried for several days when messengers asked Him to come because Lazarus was sick. Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating noted this in his "Crisis of Faith/Crisis of Love".

Esther said...

Good response. Joey and I tried to come up with something to stump you (although, we don't think you're a chump). He came up with one question. I don't know why he didn't post it.
Funny, you should post a picture of Sr. Joan Chittister. She was here this past weekend giving a talk/retreat. Nice huh?

PBXVI said...

Bevansinc, Thanks, I'm glad you approved!

Bilbannon, Interesting idea.

Esther, Thanks! I actually had no idea that that lady in the picture was a sister. I found it in some google search a long time ago and thought it was funny! Tell Joey to post his question--it better not be about ninja cats!

God Bless!

Soutenus said...

I loved your insight and your answer to my question.
Thank you so much for sharing your faith with others. I think it is so cool that we can all connect in cyberspace!

God bless!