Fifth Sunday of Lent
Reflection by Emily Lazor - Assistant Director, ACE Teaching Fellows
To me, the most hopeful part of John’s Gospel account of the raising of Lazarus is the fact that it takes some time for the tomb to be empty.
As an undergraduate student in Theology, I wrote countless papers referencing the redemptive nature of suffering and the joy of the Resurrection. It wasn’t until I became a teacher that these deeper theological truths became real in my life. Teaching ninth graders made the ontological implications of the resurrection apply to far more things than just the now seemingly uncomplicated topics I reflected upon as a college student.
Classrooms are filled with complicated dynamics. There are lesson plans to quickly adapt, personalities to manage, and most importantly souls to be taken care of in a multitude of ways. The challenge is that while a Catholic school teacher can be caught up on grading, or create a near perfect group work assignment, their ability to love students never feels as if it is even near adequate.
There is a sense of comfort in the fact that the raising of Lazarus took time. There is a sense of comfort in that while Jesus “loved Martha and her sister,” they had to wait in patient, hopeful anticipation for “the teacher” to make it to Bethany.
In teaching, the days seem to go by slowly, while the weeks fly by quickly. Slowly moving passing periods standing in the hallway become time to pray for students and their daily burdens. Cafeterias and classrooms somehow turn into sacred ground, where loving students involves letting them borrow your loose change to buy nachos, and mercy makes its way in the form of a ten-week plan of how a student can catch up on all of the work they did not do in the month of October. In the grind of mid-February, like Mary and Martha, we wait in anticipation that Christ will enter the lives of students who test us the most by June; in so far that our patient work with them becomes a prayer.
My favorite line of this Gospel occurs after Jesus rolls away the stone from Lazarus’ tomb. He raises His eyes up to God and says, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me…” How comforting knowing that the Messiah Himself was praying to the same Heavenly Father we invoke when we are feeling exhausted or helpless as teachers. The prayer flows out of Him and up to Heaven, in the same way our prayers for our students seem to flow out of us as we stand in line for the Xerox machine, or help a student whose parent still hasn’t shown up in the pick-up line.
May our patient waiting for Jesus to roll away stones in our lives and in our students’ lives this Lent prepare us to understand the fullness of the implication of His Resurrection this Easter.