ST. PAUL'S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 12:28-29; 13:1-8 - JOHN 11:1-45
Lazarus Saturday Explained
Lazarus is a Aramaic Hebrew name (אלעזר, Elʿāzār ) meaning “God is my helper”.
1- Lent, in its exclusive sense as a forty-day period, ends on the Friday of the sixth week, just before Lazarus Saturday.
2- Lazarus Saturday has a very special place in the liturgical calendar. It is not included in the forty days of Lenten period, neither in Holy Week – which starts from Monday after Palm Sunday.
3- The Service for this Saturday is particular to Resurrection, just like a Sunday service. During the small entrance, the priest says “Save us, O Son of God, who rose from the dead”, instead of “who are wondrous among your saints”, which is usually chanted the other days of the week. Also, the priest concludes the Liturgy by using “who rose from the dead for our salvation”. These are expressions special to Sundays. In this way, Lazarus Saturday is an exception during the year.
4- This Saturday, immediately followed by Palm Sunday, is a happy introduction to Holy Week. It is combined with Palm Sunday by the geographical location of the event, since Bethany is the residence of Lazarus and the starting point of the Lord Jesus as He ascends to Jerusalem.
5- We find in the hymns of Matins the Church’s interpretation of this resurrection: “O my Savior, you have fulfilled your glorious resurrection when you freed Lazarus from Hades...” This is the essential meaning of Lazarus' resurrection: it is a prior "fulfillment" of the resurrection of Christ and His victory over death. “Christ, you have resurrected Lazarus from Hades... and before your death, you have shaken the power of death...” “O Death, Christ has now conquered you through Lazarus, so where is your victory, O Hades? Behold, the weeping in Bethany turned against you and made you suffer. We all offer Christ the twigs of victory. "
The Resurrection of Lazarus also announced the resurrection of the dead, which is the result of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: "Lazarus Saturday is the feast of all the souls who reposed, as it confirms and clarifies our faith in Resurrection."
The Lord calls our attention several times to a very important teaching about the dead: “Your brother will rise again”, and she said to him twice, I know that he will rise again in the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection.”
Martha’s faith was incomplete in two ways:
She spoke of a resurrection that would only take place in the future, and she did not realize the meaning of this real resurrection embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus asserts that the Resurrection begins from now on, because He is the Resurrection and the Life, and this is a preparation for the final Resurrection, which the Lord Jesus Christ will announce on His Second Coming.
The reposed are living in Christ. Their lives are linked to Jesus' personal presence in their lives and appear in Him. In Jesus, we are not dead.
7. Here the complete divine nature of Jesus and the complete human nature of Jesus are apparent.
We see Him cry and at the same time we order Lazarus out of the grave, conquering death. Lazarus' death and resurrection terminates death, not man.
Therefore, the Church chants: "O Savior, by your walking, your tears, and your words, you have shown acts of your humanity, and by resurrecting Lazarus, you have shown the act of your divinity."
8- It is true that the Epistle reading for this day does not relate to Lazarus’s resurrection, but it is full of spiritual truths, as these verses can be applied to the mercy of the Lord Jesus, Lazarus and all of us: Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them… 'I will never fail you nor forsake you.'
Reference: Inspired from Father Lev Gillet.
Let us cry out from the grave of our sins in all sincerity to the Lord, to open the ears of our souls and our minds, and to hear His voice calling on us: Come out, so we can rise with Him to eternal life.
Yes, even if we are sinful, our resurrection in the Lord is not impossible.
Let us now go to Bethany to meet Jesus, the Lord has come and is waiting for us, so let us hurry to meet him.
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