When I was fulfilling my CPE requirement during seminary, I visited a surgery patient who had some thoracic surgery. After a couple of minutes of conversation, him sitting in the high back chair in the room and me standing nearby, he took the bottom edge of his hospital gown (which was untied and open in the back) and lifted it up so I could see his surgical scar and he said: See what they have done to me?!? The scar was a large I shaped scar going from his chest to his groin. It was important to this gentleman that I actually see what had been done to him, to see the scar that was a cause of a feeling of deep personal violation. To see the physical manifestation of his fear.
Seeing, truly seeing, being truly present, is part of being with someone in their pain, in their joy and in the in-between times. In John' Gospel today we hear a phrase we heard in the first chapter: Come and See. Jesus said that to Andrew and another of the disciples when they asked him where he was staying. Come and see for yourselves Jesus says to them: come and open your eyes and be present to whom you are speaking. This phrase is often used as an invitation into a church community.
Jesus gets this phrase turned onto himself today. He is approaching the home of his friend Lazarus, who has been dead four days, and Martha and Mary's home. Mary approaches him on his walk, Jesus asks where Lazarus has been laid and Mary says Come and See. At this moment Jesus sees the great despair his friends are in and is disturbed. Although he has known about Lazarus' death from the moment of its occurrence, and how his raising Lazarus would be one of manifestations of his power here on earth, it wasn't until this moment that he personally understood the pain his friends have been in for the past four days.
To Come and See is not only an invitation to enter a church community, it is also an invitation to open ourselves to each other, to really be present to each other. Through that deep personal presence, we get to know God's presence here with us: in all our joy, and all our pain, and in all those in-between times.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.