23 Apr 2011

Holy Week - Mary sat at home (from PrayTell)

On Lazarus Sunday the abridged version of St John’s account of the Resurrection of Lazarus was read in my parish. Martha and Lazarus were prominent, but Mary’s part was whittled down to a terse “Mary sat at home.”

In many ways, this is where Mary is today. We used to read all four accounts of the anointing of Jesus in the ten days before Easter; now we read only St John’s. We used to sing antiphons about the women who anointed the feet of Jesus during Holy Thursday’s washing of the feet; now we sing only about St Peter. This near silence exists even though the gospels of St Mark and St Matthew tell us “wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Is this silence is a good thing? The second day of the Triduum is a day of silence. The women watched as Jesus was laid in his tomb, and went home for the Sabbath. As God rested on the seventh day, as Jesus rested in the tomb, the women sat at home waiting for the next day. When they went the next day to the tomb to complete the burial rites, they were the first to discover the Resurrection.

Perhaps that is why Mary sat at home while Lazarus lay in the tomb. She fulfills the custom of sitting in mourning, not expecting the joy of seeing her brother raised from the dead. She does not expect to encounter the Lord. But when Jesus comes, she discovers new life in her brother and she lavishes her expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus with joy. From the silent sitting, she rises to glorify the Lord.

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