Tag Archives: Lazarus

no longer a reluctant pilgrim

4 Jun

Keep Hope and Be Hope cover

Until my somewhat reluctant pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1994, I had absolutely no interest or desire to go the Holy Land. Now I cannot seem to get enough. Tomorrow I begin my 15th pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the second time accompanying HOPE teacher-pilgrims.

Three teachers from my St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School are going on this pilgrimage, which totally delights me. To know that they are partnering with three teachers from my beloved Latin Patriarchate School Beit Jala gives me HOPE that our partnering with the Catholic parish and school in Beit Jala will continue, even when I retire from being the pastor of St. Andrew next year.

At 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 28, there was a school Mass for the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, the students that Mrs. Bohlen, Miss Petrozzi and Mrs. Taylor teach. At that Mass I  asked the students to send their teachers off with a blessing and a prayer, reminding them that their teachers are taking their prayer petitions with them to the Holy Land. That Mass was offered for the repose of the soul of Jabra Na’eem Sema’an, a twelfth grade student at the Beit Jala school. Jabra died just a few months before his graduation, after having made the best of his learning and his life, although he was afflicted with muscular-dystrophy since an early age, and spent his school days in a wheel chair. There will be an empty chair at his graduation. We live streamed the Mass, so that George Abu Dayyeh, his grandfather and also a teacher at the school, could hear one of our students try to pronounce Jabra’s name in the general intercessions.

One site I hope to visit is the archeological remains of the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee, the birthplace of Mary “of Magdala,” that is, Mary Magdalene.

One hope I take is that I can feel myself being mothered by Isabelle, my earthly and deceased mother, and by Mary, the Blessed Mother.

I look forwarded to handing to Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Beit Jala, the gift that my parishioners are giving to him for his school children. I look forward to celebrating Mass at the empty tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, encouraging my pilgrims to “name your dead – and – listen to hear your own name spoken by Jesus, as Mary of Magdala heard Jesus call her by name on the morning of his resurrection.” I look forward to leaving something behind in the tomb of Lazarus, as I imagine hearing the voice of Jesus calling me by name and calling me out of that thing that holds me back and has had me tied up as if in burial cloths, hoping that Jesus resuscitates me into a different way of living, in the same way that he resuscitated Lazarus.

Here at “With Open Doors” I will post photos and words, as I make pilgrimage with our teacher-pilgrims.

12 to 11 to 3 to 0

8 May

In the heat of June the pilgrim-teachers whom I will accompany to the Holy Land will want to walk where Jesus walked and to see what Jesus saw.

There are some ancient steps that Jesus would have walked twice on what we call “Holy Thursday,” once when he went down from the Upper Room on his way to Gethsemane, and once when he was taken from Gethsemane back up to the House of Caiaphas. Twice that night he would have walked through the Kidron Valley where he would passed some tombs, once with eleven of his disciples and once with none of them.

If  the weather, the schedule and the authorities permit, the pilgrim-teachers and I will pray the rosary, as we stand near the tombs in the Kidron Valley. For the prayer I have written a set of mysteries of the rosary: “The Agonizing Mysteries.” The surest way for me to see the errors in the text is to publish it, for as soon as I hit the “publish” key to post, I will see the errors of my ways. It happened all the time. So, here goes. Publish makes perfect!

Rosary in the Kidron Valley

“The Agonizing Mysteries”

Jesus is in the Upper Room.

  • The disciples ask Jesus, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
  • The disciples go off, enter the city, and find it just as he had told them it would be.
  • They prepare the Passover.
  • As they recline at table, Jesus says, “One of you will betray me.”
  • Peter vehemently replies, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all speak similarly.
  • While they are eating, he takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, and gives it to them, and says, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
  • He takes a cup, gives thanks, and gives it to them, and they all drink from it.
  • Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his outer garments, and ties a towel round his waist.
  • He pours water into a basin and begins to wash their feet.
  • Then, after singing a hymn, they go out to the Mount of Olives.

Tombs-in-the-Kidron-Valley

Jesus passes through the Kidron Valley the first time. 

  • Jesus had seen these tombs many times, but tonight, in the full moon, they look different and feel different.
  • He feels the dust at his feet, the silence of the night, and the darkness in his soul.
  • Jesus thinks about that only son of that widowed woman who was being carried out of their town to be buried. (Luke 7:11-18)
  • How he steps forward, touches the coffin, and says, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
  • Jesus thinks about that twelve year old only daughter of that synagogue official who died in her bed. (Mark 5:21-43)
  • How he takes the child by the hand and says to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
  • Jesus thinks about the brother of Mary and Martha who had been in the tomb for four days. (John 11:1-44)
  • How he cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
  • How the dead man comes out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face wrapped in a cloth. “Untie him and let him go.”
  • It crosses through the mind of Jesus that he could run over the Mount of Olives to Bethany to hide at the home of his friends, or to escape safely into the desert beyond. 

Jesus is in Gethsemane. 

  • They come to a place named Gethsemane.
  • “Sit here while I pray.”
  • Jesus begins to be troubled and distressed.
  • “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.”
  • Jesus advances a little, and falls to the ground.
  • “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”
  • He returns and finds them asleep.
  • “Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
  • Judas, one of the Twelve, his betrayer, had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.”
  • All the disciples leave him and flee.

 Jesus passes through the Kidron Valley the second time. 

  • Jesus had called twelve disciples who walked with him for three years.
  • From the upper room Jesus comes down the ancient steps with only eleven of those disciples, and comes to the garden.
  • As he enters deeper into the garden of the olive trees with only three, he leaves even them behind, and he goes deeper into agony.
  • Betrayed, abandoned and arrested, Jesus walks into this valley of death again, this time with none of his disciples – zero of the twelve – from 12 to 11 to 3 to zero.
  • He looks toward the city to see the gate of his entry on the donkey and to hear the hosannas of the crowds waving the branches of palm.
  • He spots the top of the temple of sacrifice rising above the outer wall.
  • He remembers going with the devil to the pinnacle of the temple, that corner of the wall, and being tempted to tempt God by jumping.
  • The women are nearby, the ones who promised to stay with him and remain for him, no matter what.
  • He thinks of his mother, her embraces, her assurances and their conversations.
  • At one and the same time he feels alone and he feels God being with him.

steps Peter Gallicantu

Jesus is in the house of Caiaphas. 

  • Those same steps that he had walked down just a few hours ago in front of his disciples – they feel different to his feet as the guards push and pull him up the steps.
  • They take him to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas.
  • In front of everyone Peter begins to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.”
  • Immediately a cock crows. Peter weeps bitterly.
  • They condemn him as deserving to die.
  • They spit in his face, blindfold him and slap him.
  • They lower him into the dampness of the prison pit for the night.
  • The words of the psalm, memorized and stored in his heart, move to his lips, “Lord, the God of my salvation, at night I cry aloud in your presence. My soul is filled with troubles. I am reckoned with those who go down to the pit. My only friend is darkness.”
  • His words, “You must take up your cross and follow me,” come back to haunt him.
  • He longs for the touch of his mother and he feels her absence.

 

hope gone / unexpected dawn

6 Apr

At our “Community Fare” luncheon today, I will interview in talk show fashion four women who have met and become friends through grief: each has buried her husband.

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent we will use the Raising of Lazarus, with hearty reference to his sisters Martha and Mary, as our conversation prompt. I have prepared eight questions, which I will ask one by one of our panel of believers to help them tell their faith story.

lazarus 1

1. How long have you been without your husband – and – how long was his dying process?

lazarus 2

2. When her brother Lazarus was dying, Martha called for Jesus, and when Lazarus had died, Martha ran to Jesus, all the time knowing that Jesus could change the situation. How did your “running to Jesus” make your situation change?

lazarus

3. One could guess that, once Lazarus was brought back to this life, Lazarus and his sisters lived life differently after that moment – and that each of them, Lazarus, Martha and Mary, would approach their own death differently. Since your experience of accompanying your husband in his passing, how do you live life differently now and how might you approach your own dying differently when it comes?

lazarus 1

4. Jesus instructed those near Lazarus to untie him and let him go free. How did you untie your husband and let him go free? How has your family and your parish helped to untie you and let you go free?

lazarus 1

5. Lazarus was brought back to this life. Would you want to bring your husband back?

lazarus 1

6. When Lazarus was resuscitated, Martha and Mary were reanimated. What are you doing now, since your husband’s death, that you never did when he was alive or that you would never have thought that you would have done or could have done?

lazarus

7. In our closing hymn at Mass today, “Jerusalem Our Destiny,” we sang in the fifth verse, “To the tombs I went to mourn the hope I thought was gone / Here among you I awoke to unexpected dawn.” Can you relate to that in any way?

lazarus

8. Martha put her faith into words. How do you finish the sentence that she began “I have come to believe that …?”