The tomb of Lazarus is only a short distance from the Passionist Retreat House in Bethany, but the Israeli security wall prevents you from going directly there. In 2014, when I visited there, you had to take a taxi and travel ten miles to the check point to get to this important sign in John’s gospel, pointing to the power of Jesus to give life to the dead.
The Franciscan church adjacent to the shrine is beautiful. Ruins of the ancient Byzantine church lie next to it. Martha and Mary, Lazarus their brother, are all remembered pictorially in the new church.
As I approached the tomb in 2014 a group of about 30 pilgrims with their priest was ahead of me. They were obviously from Eastern Europe and I guessed they might have been from the Ukraine or Lithuania or Russia. I stayed outside as they went down into the tomb.
During the 2nd World War over 40 million people were killed by Hitler and Stalin in what’s been called “The Bloodlands,” parts of Eastern Europe that were fought over so viciously. That part of the world is “The Bloodlands” again. Were these people going down to the tomb from that part of the world, bringing memories of “The Bloodlands,” I wondered?
They started to sing in harmony a beautiful eastern chant and the haunting, glorious music came up from the dark cavern below. Lazarus was being celebrated again and his tomb rang with their joyful song.
The dark tomb was still ringing with their singing when I went in. A joyful song from a tomb. That’s the powerful message from our gospel today which prepares us for the life-giving death of Jesus. “Lazarus, come out!” A promise to us all.
Your word pictures make it very real. Your prayers for all our beloved dead is pure grace. Hope the walking is easy. You certainly know how to make your way as you proceed on your awesome pilgrimage. Prayers for the day. Thanks for the commentary as you take us with you. Gail
Happy Birthday, Father Victor!! Gloria & Ted
5/30/2014 3:19 PM, Victor’s Place wrote: > WordPress.com > vhoagland posted: ” We visited Lazarus’ tomb yesterday; It’s only a > short distance from where we are staying in Bethany, but the Israeli > security wall prevents us from going directly there, we had to take a > taxi and travel to the check point and approach it from the east. N” >