We all are aware of what I call “last times.” For example, if a coworker is retiring from a position, and is not a personal friend or neighbor, there is a chance that will be the last time you will see that person. If an acquaintance is moving far away, you might not see that person again. When you have finished a college course, you don’t plan to see the teacher again. You hear about an actor who is ailing, and you conclude you may have seen him on the big screen for the last time. Your teenager just passed her driving road test, so you may have been her regular driver for the last time. Or how about the last time you changed your little child’s diaper, because now he is potty-trained?
I know, some “last times” we don’t miss, but others come unexpectedly, and we are sadly surprised. A lesson we try to learn is to savor the good times and experiences with special people. We attempt to muster up the energy and wisdom to bring our best selves with us into our everyday interactions. Unplanned “last times” can lead to regrets if we aren’t careful.
When we read the story of Lazarus (John 11:1-45), we know that Martha and Mary, his sisters, and all the friends and neighbors would have thought that they had seen last of Lazarus, because he had died. However Jesus called him forth alive from the tomb four days later. In today’s gospel passage, we read of Lazarus in attendance at a dinner given for Jesus in Bethany. Obviously, Lazarus had not yet eaten his last supper.
And how about Jesus’ Last Supper: the apostles did not know it would be their last time sitting and eating with Jesus as they observed the Passover. When Jesus changed the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, He told them, “Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19) Did the apostles grasp the meaning? How could they take it all in? Jesus was giving them something to nourish them so that when he had died and risen and ascended into heaven, they, and we, could still have his physical presence.
All the witnesses to the crucifixion and death of Jesus assumed that would be the last time they would experience him among them, but the Lord’s definition of “last time” is not always the same as ours. We will soon celebrate the wonderful fact that Jesus did rise from the seemingly “last time” on earth and walked among men and women until he ascended into heaven.
As we near the end of Lent, why not think about the last time we attended all the Holy Week church services? When was the last time we stopped rushing around and sat down and took stock of all the blessings you enjoy? With the onset of springtime, let’s enjoy the chance of warmly rising to new heights as we take advantage of the graces offered to us by our living, loving Savior, Jesus Christ!
Painting: The Raising of Lazarus (detail), Sabastiano del Piombo, circa 1517-1519; National Gallery, London. Public domain.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.