Walking the dog during the early winter mornings, I’m aware of the lingering darkness and the dawn arriving more slowly each morning. If I didn’t know from experience that this was simply the course of a season, I could feel a real anxiety that the light would continue to fade each morning with nothing to call it back. As a child might imagine, I could even fear that one day the sun would never return and I would be helpless and alone. But instructed by the patterns of life, I know that darkness is temporary and an essential part of the season. Come December 21, the whole thing will turn around and the light will increase within each day until it fully arrives on June 21. I just have to wait for it.
As I consider the various forms of darkness, particularly death, I am reminded of Lazarus. Lazarus had no such assurance. He died without the hope that Christ would call him from the cave. He, like the Jewish people of his time, did not know the particular way that God would save him. But once Jesus’ words “Lazarus, come out!” brought him from the dark cave, Lazarus knew that is his friend, the promised Messiah, had indeed turned the whole experience of dying around.
Lazarus, throughout his years, must have revisited that experience over and over. He must have known the awe of his own rebirth each time he remembered Christ’s voice “Lazarus, come out!” He must have felt the trembling as he recalled struggling to his feet and hobbling through the dark cave toward Jesus’ voice. The wonder of it as he felt the the winding cloths being loosened and taken from his limbs and face. And when his friend Jesus embraced him, light and and life returned to Lazarus.
Lazarus became a bishop and his saintly life is celebrated on December 17, just eight days before Christmas. This saint who emerged from the darkness at Christ’s call, reminds me of my own absolute need for the light that is Christ. I thank God and the Catholic Church for this timely and holy season. It is now that I celebrate my solidarity with all who struggle to live wisely and well. Mindful of its ancient roots, I can cry out “Maranatha” with all who have known the dark and cried out expectantly “Come, Lord Jesus!”. During the Advent liturgies, the joyful hope is proclaimed and I celebrate our God’s answer to the cry of His people, “Emmanuel,” “God is among us.”
For all who read this: Have no fear of the dark. It won’t be long. Soon there will be a great light!
Featured image: Sharon Tomko Greenberg
Blog image: Evgeni Dinev