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Martha her sister to superintend the arrangements in the kitchen while she herself continued at his feet. Peevishness, and perhaps jealousy, got the better of Martha; she came and scolded Magdalane, but the tender Messiah undertook the defence of his penitent, and asserted that she had chosen the better part; bro. ther Lazarus, who came in unexpectedly, terminated the squabble by ordering them to their work*.
This little altercation, however, was the cause why Jesus did not tarry long at Bethany:—When about leaving it, a Pharisee, through pure curiosity, invited him to dinner. The Messiah accepted his invitation ; but our unpolished Jew had not the civility to give his guest water to wash with. This occasioned him a fine lecture on charity, filled with marvellous comparisons, which, however, we shall pass over in silence as our orator so frequently conned over the same lesson, and as this dinner appears to be a repetition of one we have already mentioned.
From this period till the feast of the dedication of the temple, our hero wandered in the environs of Jerusalem along with his disciples, whom he incessantly entertained with the grandeur of his aerial kingdom, and what it was necessary to do in order to enter it. It was, according to St. Luke, on this occasion, and according to St. Matthew in the sermon on the mount, that he taught the apostles, who could not read, a short prayer called since that time the Lord's prayer, which (injurious as it is to the Divinity, whom it seems to accuse of leading us into temptation), Christians still continue to repeat.
* St. Luke, x. and xi.
Meanwhile time run on without any advantage. The cessation of prodigies and preaching occasioned that of alms. Jesus again hazarded a sermon in a vil- . Jage; but although it attracted the admiration of the people, who asked nothing better than to admire, it produced no effect. Towards the end of Christ's mission we no longer see the crowd running after him. If he wished to perform a miracle, he was under the necessity of calling those he wished to cure. For eighteen years an old woman of this village had been quite bent; it was, according to the language of the country, the devil, who had kept her in this inconvenient posture. Jesus called her and exclaimed: “ Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity*.” The old woman made efforts to become straight; she approached the feet of the Messiah with the pace of a tortoise ; he laid his hands on her, and immediately she walked upright like a wench of fifteen. At this time the devil spoke not a word on his departure; on which it has been remarked, that Satan followed always the opinion of the spectators of the Saviour's miracles, and marvelously coincided with them in acknowledging or rejecting Christ. This analogous conduct of the spectators and Satan was perhaps the result of the excommunication fulminated against all who regarded Jesus as the Messiah.
The reputation of John-Baptist subsisted still on the banks of the Jordan. To excite the primitive zeal, or perhaps with an intent to induce the disciples of John, who had borne him such flattering testimony, to follow him, Jesus turned towards that quarter; but the attempt was fruitless. He succeeded no better in curing
St. Luke, xiii. 11,
a dropsical person that chanced to be in the house of a Pharisee who
the Saviour a dinner. His cures were admired, but he spoiled all by his extravagant arguments, so offensive were they to the greatest part of his hearers. As a last resource he essayed to attach to himself publicans, officers, and such like disreputable persons; but these were only feeble props, and their familiarity made him lose the little esteem which others still entertained for him *.
The sight of punishment has often occasioned the loss of courage even to the most determined hero. Ours, agitated by a crowd of untoward events, imagined that nothing being dearer to men than life, and nothing more difficult than to come back after leaving it, the people of Jerusalem notwithstanding the clamours of the priests would not fail to declare in his favour if he could succeed in making them believe that he had the power of raising the dead. Lazarus the intimate friend of Jesus, appeared to him the fittest person in the world for presenting to the public the spectacle of a dead man brought again to life. When every thing was properly concerted and disposed, Christ set out for Bethany. Learning this, Martha and Magdalane sent to meet him, and publicly informed him that their brother was very sick. Jesus made them no answer, but speaking aloud so as to be heard, “ This sickness,'! said he, “is not unto death, but for the glory of God." -This was already telling too much.
Instead of going to Bethany or any where else, Christ remained two days in a village without doing any
* St. Mark, X. St. Luke, xiii. 17.
thing; thereafter he told his apostles that it was necessary to return into Judea. He was already there at the time he spoke, but he meant no doubt to speak of the capital. They represented that it would be a. very imprudent journey, as a short time before the populace wanted to stone him. We see that Jesus said this on purpose to give room to his friends to in. vite him not to neglect brother Lazarus in his sickness. Besides, the following words evince that he had no intention of going to Jerusalem. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep . -On hearing this the apostles thought he had recovered. Jesus declared to them, that he was dead, and that he was highly pleased with his not having been present at Lazarus's decease, as it would afford means to confirm them in the faith.
The two days which Jesus passed in the village, joined to the long space of time he took in going about half a league, were immediately converted into four days from the time he pretended Lazarus was dead. At last he arrived at the abode of the defunct, whom they had deposited in a vault adjoining to his house, and not according to the custom of those days, in-a sepulchre out of the city. After some questions put to Martha on her belief, he assured her, that her brother would rise again. Yes, said she, but it will be at the last day. Here our Thaumaturge affected to be very sensibly touched; he trembled, he wept*, in
* At Vendome, in the monastery of the Holy Trinity, is preserved the sacred tear which Jesus shed while lamenting his friend Lazarus. M. de Thiers, a Frenchman, having had the resolution to write against the authenticity of this relic, got into a dangerous scrape with the Benedictines.
voked the aid of heaven, caused himself to be brought to the vault, made it be opened, called on Lazarus with a loud voice, and commanded him to come forth. The dead man, though tied and wrapped up in his grave clothes, arose and was unloosed before witnesses at the entrance of the vault.
It must be acknowledged, that this prodigy was conducted with very little dexterity. St. John, the only Evangelist who relates this striking miracle, in vain props his relation with the presence of the Jews : he destroys his own work by not making them come till after the death of Lazarus to console his sisters. It was necessary that the Jews should have seen him die, dead, and embalmed; that they should have felt the smell of his corruption; and that they should have conversed with him after his coming out of the tomb*. Unbelievers, who have treated on miracles, have exhausted all the darts of criticism on this one. To inrestigate it would be only repeating what they have said. The Jews found in it such strong marks of kravery, that far from being converted they took more serious measures against Jesus, who having intimation thereof withdrew towards the desart to a city called Ephrem, where he abode with his disciples. In the mean time the cities and villages were enjoined to refuse him an asylum, and the inhabitants to deliver him up to the magistrates. In fact this miracle occasioned a general proscription of the Messiah. On presenting himself at the gates of a town in Samaria, they at first refused to let him pass; he was not permitted to stop at Jericho, though he there gave sight to a blind man t. He
# St. John, xi.
two blind men.