What A Waste!
Now, this is a happy scene if ever there was one: A feast, a celebration overflowing with joy in a home that just a few days before was filled with mourning and loss, doubt and despair. It wasn’t long ago that Jesus’ friend Lazarus was dead and in the grave, and his sisters Mary and Martha were weeping and wondering why Jesus had not come when they had asked him to come, asking why God didn’t answer prayer.
But now, Jesus had turned Lazarus’ death into life and Mary and Martha’s mourning has turned to dancing; their sorrow has given way to joy. God, in Jesus, has done something new, something unimaginable. The event we hope for as our distant destiny in God – that is, the resurrection of the dead and the life in the world to come – had come to them in the present. Lazarus was raised from the dead. That’s something to celebrate. They gather and Jesus comes to be with them.
Forgive Us Our Debts
At his very lowest, as he considered embezzling slop from the pigs he fed, this man in the story Jesus just told us had to have ached at how utterly hopeless his situation had become. He stood trapped, deeply mired in the consequences of his own hatred, selfishness and indulgence.
The End of the Road
Luke’s Gospel makes a dramatic turn near the end of chapter nine. Luke writes, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) From that moment on, the entire narrative flows towards the events of what we now call Holy Week: Jesus triumphal entry, his teaching in Jerusalem, his last supper with his disciples, his betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion and death, and three days later, Jesus’ resurrection.
As we near the end of our Lenten journey – a journey follows Jesus in turning toward the cross – it is easy to grow weary as the road gets more difficult, more and more demanding. At the end of this road, we reach the end of ourselves. That is the cross. The solemn words of Ash Wednesday – “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” – reach completion at the cross. The cross is the end.
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