The Therapy of Tears: The Raising of Lazarus

One of the most surprising parts of the story of the raising of Lazarus is the part where Jesus breaks down and cries. Why should this be so? Perhaps it is the sight of a man weeping in public that surprises. In general, men are not good at showing emotions. The stoics of old were proud of their ability to conceal their feelings. They hid their anger, their sadness, and even their joy.
Maybe our culture is not comfortable with tears. Tears tend to be a sign of weakness. Tears have a great therapeutic value, provided of course they are genuine.
Jesus did not conceal his feelings. The Gospel makes this clear. He was moved with pity on seeing the plight of ordinary people. He wept over the city of Jerusalem because he saw that it was heading for destruction. And he wept on the way to the tomb of Lazarus. The very fact that Jesus broke down tells us more about his heartfelt sympathy for Martha and Mary, and his solidarity with them, than a thousand words.
Grief is one of the strongest emotions we are ever likely to experience. Some are embarrassed about expressing their grief in public-so they suppress their grief. It is now generally accepted that to suppress grief is not only bad but dangerous, and may lead to serious emotional problems later on.
Jesus accompanied Martha and Mary and shared their grief. At the same time he challenged them to believe ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will never die (eternally). Do you believe this?’ And Martha said: ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’
Faith is our great ally in facing death. It doesn’t mean we have all the answers and it doesn’t dispense us from the painful emotion of grieving. That element is hope. We grieve as a people who believe that death doesn’t have the last word.
The way to deal with grief is not to run away from it, or pretend it isn’t there, but to face it and work through it with as much honesty and love as one can. Shed tears are bitter, but unshed tears are much more bitter.
With kind best wishes and Love
to one and all
Dean Peter