Monday, April 10, 2006

Lazarus Saturday

Here's a good meditation on Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday--I just discovered that it was called this, at least in the Orthodox calendar). It's by James Kushiner of Touchstone Magazine. Here's an excerpt:

One of my most memorable Lents was spent reading Crime and Punishment, so the crime theme was close at hand. What brings me back to that Lent, which was perhaps five years ago, is reading today [two days ago] from the Lenten Triodion of the Orthodox Church. I am reading verses for Lazarus Saturday, which falls next Saturday and marks the place where Lent ends and Holy Week begins.

Of course in the Western calendar today is the day before Palm Sunday, and readings from John 11 on the raising of Lazarus make sense. According to John, Jesus' return to Bethany and the raising of Lazarus marks the beginning of his passion sequence. When the leaders saw how the crowds, who were arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover, responded to the news of Lazarus's resurrection, they knew trouble was brewing. Next thing you know they might hail Jesus as Messiah, which, of course they did on Palm Sunday.

Crime and Punishment, of course, brings the raising of Lazarus quietly into the novel as it unfolds in the redemption of the hopeless murderer Raskolnikov. I cannot approach Lazarus Saturday without thinking of the redemption of that wretched man.

No comments: