Last Week of Great Lent

Throughout this final week of the fast, the Church looks ahead to the
raising of Lazarus, which we celebrate on Friday evening and Saturday
morning. Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha sent intercessors to Jesus
when Lazarus fell ill early this week, asking the Lord to come and
heal him. The Lord waited two days, then set off for Jerusalem, in
order both to raise Lazarus — who by this time had died — from the
dead and to prepare for his own impending death and resurrection.
Starting now, we begin to travel with our Lord in real time,
discussing the news of Lazarus’ sickness on the day that Christ
received this news, and following Him, day by day, until the very day
of His Resurrection, which we will celebrate very soon. The following texts from
today’s Vespers help us to prepare for our observance of the Holy Week
of the Lord’s Passion:

When Thou wast journeying in the flesh, O Jesus, / on the other side
of the Jordan, / Thou hast said to Thy companions: “My friend Lazarus
is already dead, / and now has been committed to the tomb. / And so
for your sakes I rejoice, my friends, / for by this ye shall learn
that I know all things, / since I am God, inseparable from the Father,
/ though in my visible appearance I am man. / Let us go then, to bring
him back to life, / that death may feel the defeat / and utter
destruction that I bring upon it, // bestowing my great mercy on the

O ye faithful, let us follow the example of Martha and Mary, / and as
intercessors let us send to the Lord our acts of righteousness, / that
He may come to raise up from the dead our spiritual understanding, /
which lies insensible within the tomb of negligence, / lacking all
feeling of the fear of God / and having no vital energy. / So let us
cry: As once by Thy dead authority, O merciful Lord, / Thou hast
raised up Thy friend Lazarus, / so now give life to all of us, // and
grant us Thy great mercy.

Lazarus has now been two days in the tomb, / and He sees the dead from
all the ages. / There he beholds strange sights of terror, / a
multitude that none can number, the prisoners of hell. / His sisters
bitterly lament, looking upon his tomb. / But Christ comes to bring
His friend to life, / that a single hymn of praise may be offered up
with one accord by all: // Blessed art Thou, O Savior, have mercy upon

Reader Nicholas Park
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas TX

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