MEMORIAL OF STS. MARY, MARTHA AND LAZARUS
(1 John 4: 7 – 18; Ps 34; John 12: 1 – 11)
In our Order we celebrate Mary, Martha and Lazarus with a special title “Hosts of the Lord” – in these words there is beauty, intimacy, profound friendship. Welcoming Him into their home, they hosted the Lord, the Word made flesh. Martha, the cook, used all her skill to serve Him with a fine repast. Lazarus, whom Jesus has raised from the dead, reclining at table with Him, served Him with an attentive, loving heart. Mary, in an extravagant act of love, anointed His feet then in a uniquely personal way dried them with her hair, this was her service.
Supremely privileged to be His hosts they could not have done enough for Him. Imagine Jesus, in His sacred humanity, so welcomed, so graciously hosted by these dear friends – consider what this consolation meant to Him who was so tested, so despised, so misunderstood. Jesus, in His humanity, like us in all things except sin needed others for support, for friendship – how grateful He was to this family!
Actually at this meal, there were four hosts. Jesus, THE SERVANT, is always and everywhere THE HOST (capital H). He is always present as the Sacrament of the Father and in and through Him one encounters God Himself. In the reading at Vigils this morning St. Macarius of Egypt is so clear: Jesus was not just there enjoying their company – His very presence, His words penetrated their hearts, brought His soul to their souls, His Spirit to their spirits and a divine power filled their hearts. It could not be otherwise!
In this Gospel of hosting and being hosted, of giving and receiving there is a word picture of the holy dynamism of the Church, of the heart of this monastery. Our God, THE HOST, serves us with desire for Him, feeds us with the Most Holy Eucharist, in and by the Holy Spirit invites us into prayer. And we, in turn, as people of faith host Him in our welcome, in our embrace – He graces us with Himself and gratefully we offer ourselves to be so graced.
Is this not a taste of Eternal Life? God never ceases to be THE HOST – serving us with Himself, with unlimited, endless love and we, in turn, never cease to host Him with timeless loving praise and gratitude. Giving and receiving – the graced dynamics of true life – of our lives – now and forever.