Lazarus died twice. Think of it. After Jesus called him from the grave and his life went on, do you think he worried less about the next death that he would inevitably face? Maybe his subsequent obituary read, “It was not so bad the second time around.”
I am reminded of a story from my life. Mabel was 8 and we were at a hotel pool. I was lingering on the side of the pool shivering in my swimsuit. I was putting off the inevitable as I tested the water with my toe and confirmed I was not going to get warmer if I got it. Mabel was already in the pool dancing around in delight cheered me to jump in. Like all kids she wanted me to jump in and join her play and happiness. Instead I was reticent. Impatient, Mabel finally chose philosophy to motivate me, “Come on mom, worry makes you suffer twice.”
During the pandemic which has changed our lives so dramatically, Mabel’s advice should be put on coffee mugs and bumper stickers, printed on t-shirts and pillow cases. “Worry makes you suffer twice”.
“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a woman engaged to a man named Joseph. Her name was Mary.” You know the story but likely you do not know that according to the Church Liturgical Calendar March 24th celebrates what is historically called, The Annunciation of our Lord.
During Lent seems right to remember the moment that the angel came to Mary and said, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God and you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call him Jesus.” Recalling the beginning of Jesus’ life as we prepare to remember his suffering and the cross is profound during the global pandemic causing such catastrophic suffering and death.
“The only thing more contagious than a virus is hope.” -- Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven
I do not know if Admiral McRaven is a religious person, but his statement is a perfect piece of timeless Wisdom pointing beyond any single human effort toward a Creator of Hope.
We are in times in which fear is as contagious as Coronavirus. All week I have noticed the tension rising in me as my slow growing awareness came to understand just how tragic this pandemic will prove to be for our world.
Conversations recite the same almost ‘liturgical’ words right now; “It’s fluid.” “Everything is happening in real time.” “Plans are out the window.”
All our standard modes of life are changed. This brings an assortment of challenges and feelings across the spectrum of age and stage as we integrate what is really going on right now in our families, nation, and world.
Suddenly, I am aware of how much church is simply and profoundly a place where we find stability during challenging times.
This gospel passage is for people who are tired, weary and thirsty.
As the story begins, Jesus was alone, weary and thirsty when he stopped for a drink. At an ancient well, he crossed paths with a woman fetching water. A conversation ensued. An extraordinary conversation that revealed a mutual thirst for a better world.
How would you describe the world that Jesus wanted and taught his disciples about and died for?
In this time when we are all affected by the coronavirus, whether directly or indirectly, whether physically, biologically, psychologically, spiritually, and for many economically, it may be helpful to remember that we’re in this together.