Cloud of Witnesses

A reflection written last year on the fifth Sunday of Lent: one of my favorite gospels, the raising of Lazarus…


You’re standing there, confronting Him:
Facing the One Who could have saved him
And didn’t come.
And yet, with the tears, and the pain of feeling abandoned still present in your face,
Somehow, you say, “I know whatever you ask of God, God will give you”.

What did you expect Him to ask of God?
Did you even know?
Yet I think it wasn’t a what that you expected, a what that you hoped for:
It was a Who that you hoped in.
What kind of love must He have shown you, what kind of Presence must He have had,
That your trust could be so indefatigable, even in the face of death:
“Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that You are the Messiah,
The One who is to come into the world”.
It was the love and presence of the very real, human Other
who could weep in front of you, with you, over the death of your brother:
whom you expected to weep…
whom you had expected to come;
who, even in His disappointment of you, could not shake your trust
that He still had other ways of meeting your hope.

And if you, dear Martha, in the yawning jaws of death,
could stand in the confidence of this Man Who loved you and your sister,
even without understanding,
Then “I have to be blind not to see, not to believe”.

I want to see Him like you.
I want to know Him like you,
I want to trust Him as you,

Because of you. Because of your witness, because of your life.

And I am so grateful that I belong with you to this great cloud of witnesses,
That my life is encompassed by the power and authoritative presence of other lives, other people,
as the concrete, objective reality that the storms of my life run up against,
and who force me into daily new chances
to take up and echo the form of all of your yeses,
your professions of faith.

Because here, in the faces of these witnesses, I run aground of that same Other,
that same Presence, 

to Whom you could say: “Yes, Lord, I believe.”

Keep me always in front of Him as we walk this road to resurrection.



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