Sunday, 9 March 2008
"Unbind him, let him go free"
Carravaggio's depiction of today's Gospel ties in well with the first reading from Ezekiel. There, God summoned the dry bones and Ezekiel prophesied; the bones got up, got flesh and then received the spirit (the order is important). Carravaggio's painting of Lazarus shows him still very much corpse-like even after being unbound. Christ summoned the dead Lazarus from the tomb, the dead Lazarus answered His call and slowly life was breathed into him.
More usually, we picture a staggering Lazarus leaving the tomb, alive, haunted and stinking. Reading the Gospel seems to allow for either interpretation. The interpretation that inspires Carravaggio seems the more dignified and loving. If we ever try to imagine the Resurrection of the Dead, it really shouldn't look like a cheap zombie movie.
In being raised from the dead, Lazarus was probably going to have to spend the early days of the rest of his life in hiding from those who would have him displayed as a freak, those who wished to gawp and not believe. What's the betting Martha spent the rest of her life looking out for her brother and leading him from one place of safety to the next?
How much more significant becomes the Passion of Our Lord. Sharing in our suffering and grief and raising from the dead is one thing (God with Elijah did that to the Widow's son), taking on our sins and dying for us so that we may have eternal life is something else entirely.