The raising of Lazarus: Just a random passage from the life of Jesus which we already know of from the Gospels and on which the Poem of the Man-God allows us to enter into deeper contemplation and meditation. Let critics say what they want to say. I encourage others to read the work for themselves, forget about problematic passages for now if you will, read the ones that edify and increase your faith.
Just posting an excerpt. The full passage can be read here: http://site.catholicxybr.com/main/3124/index.asp?pageid=123894&t=&newsid=19124
Martha asks in a low voice: «Master, do You want to go down there? If You do, torches will be required...» But she is wan at the thought of having to go down.
Jesus does not reply to her. He raises His eyes to the sky, He stretches out His arms crosswise and prays in a very loud voice syllabising the words: «Father! I thank You for hearing Me. I knew that You always hear Me. But I said so for those who are present here, for the people surrounding Me, that they may believe in You, in Me, and that You have sent Me! »
He remains thus for a moment and He becomes so transfigured that He seems to be enraptured, while without uttering any sound He says more secret words of prayer or adoration. I do not know. What I know is that He is so transhumanised that it is not possible to look at Him without feeling one's heart quiver. His body seems to become light, spiritualised, rising in height and also from the earth. Although the shades of His hair, eyes, complexion, garments remain unchanged ‑ contrary to what happened during the transfiguration on mount Tabor when everything became light and dazzling brightness ‑ He seems to shed light and that His whole body becomes light. Light seems to form a halo around Him, particularly round His face raised to the sky, certainly enraptured in the contemplation of His Father.
He remains thus for some time, then He becomes Himself, the Man, but powerfully majestic. He proceeds as far as the threshold of the sepulchre. He moves His arms forward ‑ so far He had held them crosswise, the palms turned upwards ‑ now with palms turned downwards, so that His hands are already inside the hole of the sepulchre and their whiteness is outstanding in the darkness of the hole. His blue eyes are blazing and their flash forecasting a miracle is today unsustainable, in the silent darkness, and in a powerful voice and with a cry louder than the one He uttered on the lake when He ordered the wind to abate, in a voice that I never heard in any other miracle, He shouts: «Lazarus! Come out!» His voice is echoed by the sepulchral cave and coming out of it, it spreads all over the garden, it is repeated by the undulations of the ground of Bethany, I think it travels as far as the first hills beyond the fields and then comes back, repeated and subdued, like an order that cannot fail. It is certain that from numberless directions one can hear again: «out! out! out! »
Everybody is thrilled with emotion and if curiosity rivets everyone in his place, faces grow pale and eyes are opened wide while mouths are closed involuntarily with cries of surprise already on their lips.
Martha, a little behind and to one side, seems fascinated looking at Jesus. Mary, who has never moved away from the Master, falls on her knees at the entrance of the sepulchre, one hand on her breast to check her throbbing heart, the other holding the edge of Jesus' mantle unconsciously and convulsively, and one realises that she is trembling because the mantle is shaken lightly by the hand holding it.
"Something white seems to emerge from the deep end of the sepulchre. At first it is just a short convex line, then it becomes oval-shaped, then wider and longer lines appear. And the dead body, enveloped in its bandages, comes slowly forward, becoming more visible, more mysterious and more awful.
Jesus draws back, imperceptibly, but continuously, as the other moves forward. Thus the distance between the two is always the same.
Mary is compelled to drop the edge of the mantle, but she does not move from where she is. Joy, emotion, everything, nail her to the place where she is.
An «oh! » is uttered more and more clearly by the lips previously closed by the anxiety of suspense: from a whisper hardly distinguishable it changes into a voice, from a voice into a powerful cry.
Lazarus is by now on the threshold of the sepulchre and he remains there rigid and silent, like a plaster statue just rough‑hewed, thus shapeless, a long thing, thin at the head and legs, thicker at the trunk, as macabre as death itself, ghost‑like in the white bandages against the dark background of the sepulchre. As the sun shines on him, putrid matter can be seen dripping already here and there from the bandages.
Jesus shouts out in a loud voice: «Unbind him and let him go. Give him clothes and food.»
«Master!...» says Martha, and perhaps she would like to say more, but Jesus stares at her subduing her with His bright eyes and He says: «Here! At once! Bring a garment. Dress him in the presence of all the people and give him something to eat.» He orders and never turns round to look at those who are behind and around Him. He looks only at Lazarus, at Mary who is near her resurrected brother, heedless of the disgust caused to everybody by the putrid bandages, and at Martha who is panting as if she felt her heart break and does not know whether she should shout for joy or weep...
The servants rush to carry out the instructions. Naomi is the first to run away and to come back with garments folded on her arm. Some untie the bandages after rolling up their sleeves and tucking up their garments so that they may not touch the dripping rot. Marcella and Sarah come back with amphoras of perfumes followed by servants carrying basins and jugs of water steaming hot or trays with cups of milk, wine, fruit, honey‑cakes.
The very long narrow bandages, which I think are of linen, with selvedge on each side, obviously woven for that purpose, unroll like rolls of tape from a reel and pile up on the ground, heavy with spices and pus. The servants move them to one side by means of sticks. They have started from the head, but even there there is matter that has certainly dripped from the nose, ears and mouth. The sudarium placed on the face is soaked with putrid matter and Lazarus' face, which is very pale and emaciated, with his eyes closed with the pomade placed in the eye‑sockets, with his hair and thin short beard sticking together, is soiled with it. The shroud placed round his body falls off slowly as the bandages are removed, freeing the trunk that they had enveloped for days, restoring a human figure to what they had previously transformed into something like a huge chrysalid. The bony shoulders, the emaciated arms, the ribs just covered with skin, the sunken stomach begin to appear slowly. And as the bandages fall off, the sisters, Maximinus, the servants busy themselves removing the first layer of dirt and balms and they insist continuously changing the water made detergent with spices, until the skin appears clean.
"When they uncover Lazarus' face and he can look, he directs his gaze towards Jesus before looking at his sisters, and he seems absent‑minded and does not pay attention to what is happening while he looks at his Jesus with a loving smile on his lips and tears shining in his deep‑sunken eyes. Jesus also smiles at him, His eyes shining with tears, and without speaking He directs Lazarus' gaze towards the sky; Lazarus understands and moves his lips in silent prayer.
Martha thinks that he wishes to say something but has no voice yet and she asks: «What are you saying to me, my Lazarus? »
«Nothing, Martha. I was thanking the Most High.» His pronunciation is steady, his voice loud.
The crowds utter an «oh! » of amazement once again.
He has now been freed and cleaned down to his sides. And they can put on him his short tunic, a kind of a short shirt that reaches below his inguen falling on his thighs.
They make him sit down to untie his legs and wash them. As soon as they appear Martha and Mary utter a loud cry pointing to the legs and bandages. And whilst on the bandages tied round the legs and on the shroud placed under the bandages the putrid matter is so copious as to stream down the cloth, the legs are completely healed. Only red cyanotic scars indicate the parts affected by gangrene.
All the people shout their amazement more loudly; Jesus smiles and Lazarus smiles, too, looking for a moment at his healed legs, then he becomes engrossed again in looking at Jesus. He never seems to gratify his desire to see Him. The Judaeans, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, rabbis come forward cautiously in order not to contaminate their garments. They examine Lazarus closely. They examine Jesus closely. But neither Lazarus nor Jesus minds them. They look at each other and all the rest means nothing to them.
They now put sandals on Lazarus' feet and he stands up, agile and steady. He takes the tunic that Martha hands him, he puts it on by himself, he fastens his belt and adjusts the fold of the garment. And there he is, lean and pale, but like everybody else. He washes again his hands and arms as far as his elbows, after tucking up his sleeves. And with clean water he washes his face and head again, until he feels that he is thoroughly clean. He dries his hair and face, hands the towel to the servant and goes straight towards Jesus. He prostrates himself. He kisses His feet.
Jesus bends, lifts him up, presses him to His heart saying: «Welcome back home, My dear friend. May peace and joy be with you. Live to accomplish your happy destiny. Raise your face that I may greet you with a kiss.» And He kisses Lazarus' cheeks and is kissed by him.
Only after worshipping and kissing the Master, Lazarus speaks to his sisters and kisses them; he then kisses Maximinus and Naomi, who are weeping for joy, and some of those who I think are related to the family or are very close friends. He then kisses Joseph, Nicodemus, Simon Zealot and a few more.
Jesus goes personally towards a servant who is carrying a tray on which there is some food and He takes a honey‑cake, an apple, a goblet of wine, and He offers them to Lazarus, after offering and blessing them, so that he may nourish himself. And Lazarus eats with the healthy appetite of one who is well. A further «oh! » of amazement is uttered by the crowd.
Jesus seems to see no one but Lazarus, but in actual fact He observes everything and everybody and when He sees with what furious gestures Sadoc, Helkai, Hananiah, Felix, Doras and Cornelius and others are about to go away, He says in a loud voice: «Wait a moment, Sadoc. I want to have a word with you, with you and your friends.»
They stop with the sinister look of criminals.
Joseph of Arimathea makes a gesture as if he were frightened and beckons to the Zealot to restrain Jesus. But He is already going towards the rancorous group and is already saying loud: «Sadoc, is what you have seen enough for you? One day you told Me that in order to believe, you and your peers needed to see a decomposed dead body be recomposed and in good health. Are you satisfied with the rottenness you have seen? Can you admit that Lazarus was dead and that now he is alive and healthy, as he has never been for many years? I know. You came here to tempt these people, to increase their grief and their doubt. You came here looking for Me, hoping to find Me hiding in the room of the dying man. You did not come with feelings of love and with the desire to honour the deceased man, but to ensure that Lazarus was really dead, and you have continued to come rejoicing all the more as time went by. If the situation had evolved as you were hoping, as you believed it would evolve, you would have been right in exulting. The Friend Who cures everybody, but does not cure His friend. The Master Who rewards everybody's faith, but not the faith of His friends in Bethany. The Messiah powerless against the reality of death. That is what was making you exult. Then God gave you His reply. No prophet had ever been able to put together what was decomposed, in addition to being dead. God did it. That is the living witness of what I am. One day it was God Who took some dust and made it into a form and He breathed the vital spirit into it and man was. I was there to say: "Let man be made in our own image and likeness". Because I am the Word of the Father. Today, I, the Word, said to what is even less than dust, I said to rottenness: "Live", and decomposition was recomposed into flesh, into wholesome, living, breathing flesh. There it is looking at you. And to the flesh I joined the spirit that had been lying for days in Abraham's bosom. I called him with My will, because I can do everything, as I am the Living Being, the King of kings to Whom all creatures and things are subject. What are you going to reply to Me now? »
He is in front of them, tall, ablaze with majesty, really Judge and God. They do not reply.