The Saturday of Lazarus
Hebrews 12:28-13:8 (Epistle)
John 11: 1-45 (Gospel)
Martha and Mary said to the Savior, "If You had been here, Lord, Lazarus would not have died." But Christ, who is the Resurrection of the dead, raised from the dead him who lay dead for four days. Let all the faithful come and worship Him who comes in glory to save our souls.
You humbled Yourself among the crowds granting the Apostles signs of Your Divinity which you desired to conceal. Wherefore, with foreknowledge, and as God, you foretold the death of Lazarus to the Apostles. In Bethany unknowing the tomb of your beloved friend Lazarus, You asked, as a man, in the presence of the people, where it could be found. But he, who was raised by You after four days, proclaimed Your dominion. Almighty Lord, glory to You.
Explanation of the Feast
The Saturday of Lazarus is counted as one of the great feast days of the Church. It is celebrated with a great deal of joy and reverence.
The Gospel of John (11.3) tells us that while Christ was preaching elsewhere, Mary and Martha, sent word that their brother Lazarus was sick. Jesus did not leave at once to go and visit His ailing friend, however, because through His divinity He knew that Lazarus' sickness would not result in permanent death. Christ knew that Lazarus would be brought back to life by Christ, an act which would bring glory to the Father and the Son. So Jesus waited two days before making the journey to Bethany to visit Martha and Mary and Lazarus, who by this point had been dead for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went out to meet Him and immediately fell at His feet and worshipped Him saying "Lord had you been here then my brother would not have died." Christ then asks her to go and call her sister Mary and to show Him where they buried Lazarus.
When Martha called Mary she told her sister that the Lord was asking for her and they immediately left their home and went to the tomb. When Jesus saw the tears of the sisters and the sorrow of all those who had come to mourn Lazarus He felt a great deal of sorrow in His heart and wept (John 11:35).
Jesus then asked that the stone which was placed in front of the tomb be removed. Martha immediately protested stating that her brother has been dead for four days and that his body will have a terrible smell, but Christ insisted and they rolled away the stone.
It is significant that Lazarus had been dead for four days. According to ancient Jewish Tradition, it is said that the soul remained near the body for three days but by the fourth day a person was truly considered to be dead.
Jesus, then lifts up His voice in prayer and cries out, "Lazarus come forth," and Lazarus exited the tomb still wrapped in the linen shroud. They immediately unbound him and offered glory to God. During His earthly ministry, Christ had performed many miracles, curing the mother-in-law of Peter, healing the paralytic, healing lepers, those possessed by demons, and the blind. Never had anyone raised someone who had been dead for four days! Everyone in attendance offered praise to God. It did not take long for word of what happened to spread throughout Jerusalem which explains the reception He receives the following day (Palm Sunday).
In today's celebration we clearly see the two natures of Christ being revealed. His Divinity through the pre-knowledge of Lazarus' Death and coming Resurrection and His Humanity through His asking to be shown where they buried Lazarus and His weeping.
According to both custom and tradition fish as well as oil and wine are permitted on the Saturday of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.
Rev. Father Peter J. Orfanakos, Parish Priest
Phone: (203) 795-1347 | E-mail: | 480 Racebrook Road - Orange, Connecticut 06477
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