LAZARUS, MARTHA & MARY – The best friends of Jesus.

The resurrection of Lazarus is the last miracle of Jesus for which after He was brought to death. It is the last straw that broke the camel’s back. This miracle ignited the jealousy of the Priests and caused the beginning of the process of bringing Jesus to an end. The Pharisees could not take it any longer; Jesus was becoming too powerful in front of the people. He had to be eliminated.

    But this miracle brings out the best image of Jesus, the Lamb of God the loving Savior; He does everything out of love. Lazarus was his best friend (John defines him as: “The one you love is ill”); Martha used to take care of Him every year when He would go to Jerusalem for the Passover; Mary was the love of His heart. The house of Lazarus, Bethany House, even today, is called “the House of Friendship”.

     Three times in the Gospel of John we see Jesus “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved”. It is the only time Jesus “weep” for a friend and he is not afraid to show to everybody “how much he loved him”.

     Martha is the first one to run out of the house to meet Jesus on the road; she is the first one to “believe in eternal life”. Mary, “the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair” is the most intimate of His friends. Jesus accept her tender sign of affection and allows her to touch him, to prepare, like a priest, His body for the ultimate sacrifice. What an intimate celebration of love, faith and sacrifice. Martha “went back to the house and told Mary privately: The teacher is here and is calling for you”. Jesus came for Lazarus, but He is calling for Mary and she feels privileged and chosen to a special intimate relationship with Jesus. What a delicate respect Martha has for the tender love that Jesus has for her sister; no jealousy but joy in the sharing of that special love Jesus has for her sister. 

     The resurrection of Lazarus is the best proof that Jesus has the power over death; and after a few days He will be able to raise also his body out of death, with His resurrection. “I am the resurrection and the life” says Jesus to Martha. This is the most open and clear declaration that Jesus is the eternal life, that we humans are created for. And he gives this eternal life to all those who love Him, who are His intimate friends.

     This miracle is the summit and the conclusion of the public ministry of Jesus; a beautiful conclusion to His mission on earth. His first miracle was at Cana, at a wedding feast of love; now His last miracle is love which will continue into eternal life. As at the Last Supper, the central theme of the mission of Jesus is a profound and intimate love for God, which then we are called to share with one another.

How can we build in our community the “House of Friendship” that Jesus had built in Bethany at the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary?

Fr. Walter

About Fr. Walter

Father Walter Tonelotto was born in Italy in 1947 and entered the Scalabrini Seminary at an early age. At 20 he was sent by his superiors to study Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York and then to the Toronto School of Theology. He holds a Master in Divinity from St. Paul’s University in Ottawa and a Master in Moral Theology from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, New York City.