Dear Friends of St. Anne's Shrine,
One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is the dramatic narrative in John’s Gospel involving the sisters Martha and Mary with their brother Lazarus. On the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear proclaimed the miraculous event of Jesus restoring life to Lazarus who was lying dead for four days in a tomb behind a large stone. In this story we witness both the humanity and divinity of Jesus as he responds to the plea of his dear friends.
Seeing Jesus as the Son of God is a foundational element of our faith. Yet at the same time, believing Jesus to be fully human is just as important. It is difficult to hold in balance this great mystery of our faith without emphasizing one aspect over the other. This is the nature of mystery. This is the reason for our faith.
The restoring of Lazarus to life is magnificent in that we encounter both the divinity of Jesus and his humanity from one paragraph to the next. The context of the story is critical. Martha, Mary and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus. They were the people Jesus would visit for a home-cooked meal, to socialize and be nourished with loving friendship. Jesus wept at hearing that Lazarus died and in doing so showed his humanity to those around him. The power of God enabled Jesus to call Lazarus from the tomb restoring him to life and revealing Jesus’ divinity.
Our own faith journey involves believing in Jesus as Martha, Mary and Lazarus did. Seeing Jesus as human friend and as Divine Son is the core of the mystery. We are called in prayer to develop a relationship with Jesus and it is helpful to remember the friendships Jesus had as he walked the earth.
This is something we encourage pilgrims to do when visiting St. Anne’s Shrine. We invite people to imagine accompanying Jesus while praying with Gospel stories. The more time we spend with Gospel narratives that reveal God in the human person of Jesus, the more we learn about Jesus and deepen our relationship with him.
Your financial assistance enables us to offer retreats and programs that provide the opportunity for our visitors to encounter Jesus in a prayerful way. During this holy season of Lent, I ask for your continued collaboration with us by making a special donation as we approach Easter. This ministry provides reconciliation and healing for many people seeking to encounter the risen Christ. Please help us continue this apostolate with a generous donation and also send us your petitions. We share the Lenten journey to the cross in company with Jesus, and we look with hope to the resurrection and the gift of eternal life. Thank you for your support. Have a holy Lent and a glorious Easter season!
Rev. Brian J. Cummings, S.S.E.