The Raising of Lazarus Dazzled the World

The Raising of Lazarus Dazzled the World

"'The Raising of Lazarus', tempera and gold on panel by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1310–11
“‘The Raising of Lazarus’, tempera and gold on panel by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1310–11


“It is a mistake to think that those who have inherited the material for their life from suffering generations, and who have poor health and a timid approach or some vice or weakness, have not been designed and planned by God as much as others who seem luckier in the world’s eyes.

Christ has said: “I am the Way,” and He has been there in every generation, blowing with the Divine Breath of the Spirit on that little flame of life. He is the Way, but He is not limited as we are: He can manifest Himself in countless ways we do not dream of. He can will to live in lives of suffering and darkness we cannot conceive of; He can choose what seems to us the most unlikely material in the world to use for a positive miracle of His love.”

. . .

“The most striking example of the material God can and does use to manifest His glory is Lazarus.

Lazarus was not even alive; he was dead, and according to his chief mourners, stinking; but Christ used him as the material for showing forth the glory of God in a way surpassed only by His own Resurrection. The moment of His own Resurrection was a secret, a secret between His Heavenly Father and Himself. But the raising of Lazarus dazzled the world.

Each one of us– as we are at the moment when we first ask ourselves: “For what purpose do I exist?” — is the material which Christ Himself, through all the generations that have gone to our making, has fashioned for His purpose.

That which seems to us to be a crumbling point, a lack, a thorn in the flesh, is destined for God’s glory as surely as the rotting bones of Lazarus, as surely as the radiance of Mary of Nazareth.”

from The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander

picture attribution: ‘The Raising of Lazarus’, tempera and gold on panel by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1310–11, Kimbell Art Museum” by Duccio – Kimbell Art Museum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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  • I have to be honest. I read her Wood of the Cradle for Advent/Christmas, and I was frustrated and disappointed. I know many people love her writing, and I did find a couple of gems in the book, but she seemed to me to take pages to say what could have only taken couple of paragraphs. I wanted to like her. I was hoping to like her. And maybe her other books are different? But I just couldn’t get past how verbose she seemed to be. 🙁

    • Katherine, I’ve been meaning to read Wood of the Cradle but haven’t got it yet, so I can’t compare the two books.

      I do know I did not like Petook, her Easter picture book for kids, though it is widely mentioned as a favorite by other Catholic moms.

      I find Reed of God quite dense. This is my third or fourth time to try to read it. I’ve not read past the second chapter. And yet the parts I have read are beautiful and rich. I find that I like to read a short chunk and then come back and re-read the parts I’ve underlined. That’s what I’m sharing here, stuff I underlined weeks ago that I’m coming back to re-read.

      For me it’s a book that works really well to nibble at, not to try to read straight through.

      • I can see where making her book an Advent book and trying to simply read through it in a set time was problematic and reading it in small chunks might be more fruitful. I’ll have to try that next time. I think trying to get through it for Christmas made it more frustrating than it might otherwise be.

  • I once heard Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, wonder aloud if Lazarus may have had an intellectual disability (the house was known as Martha and Mary’s house even though in those days the male would have been the head, he was widely known of and loved…) This would add another facet to “The most striking example of the material God can and does use to manifest His glory is Lazarus”.