From the editor: April 3, 2015
What Tears Avail?
He who wept before the tomb of Lazarus raised the dead man to life, thereby drying the tears of Mary and Martha. His own tears were genuine. The Lord Jesus, according to Orthodox hymnography, wept at the tomb of Lazarus so as to confirm his humanity:
"O Savior who lovest mankind, Thou hast wept over the dead, in this way showing to all the peoples that, being God, Thou hast become man for our sakes; and shedding tears by Thine own choice, Thou hast given us proof of Thy heartfelt love." (Compline, Lazarus Saturday)
There is more about this love, as Jesus is described as "shedding for [Lazarus] tears of tender love... weeping as a man in Thy compassion." (Matins, Lazarus Saturday)
Jesus, after weeping in compassion and tender love at Lazarus's tomb, on Palm Sunday as "he drew near and saw [Jerusalem] he wept over it," seeing its blindness to His coming and to "the things that make for peace (salem)," and foreseeing its coming brutal destruction under the Romans.
Four days after Palm Sunday, tears again were shed in compassion—but this time not by Jesus but for him. As Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha, compassion led many women to follow this Via Dolorosa, women "who bewailed and lamented him."
Yet Jesus essentially told them to save their tears for themselves—for the same reason he had himself wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, that is, because of a coming judgment:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us'. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
Tears were and are not needed for Jesus on Good Friday. Repentance is what he seeks. Tears for our sins that moved Him to the Cross. And He is able to dry such tears.
The tears of the Via Dolorosa were dried on Easter, as is sung every Sunday morning at Matins:
Wherefore, O Women Disciples, do ye mingle sweet-smelling spices with your tears of pity? The radiant Angel within the sepulcher cried unto the Myrrh-bearing Women: Behold the grave, and understand; for the Savior is risen from the tomb.
Very early in the morning did the Myrrh-bearing Women run lamenting unto Thy tomb; but an Angel came toward them saying: The time for lamentation is passed; weep not; but announce unto the Apostles the Resurrection.
In this "vale of tears" now is not the time to weep for Jesus, but for our own sins, as individuals, as a nation, as a world, and a judgment that may fall at any time. Jesus yet preaches repentance because he is Philanthropos—the lover of mankind.
The trail of tears ends at the Empty Tomb and picks up again with tears of joy in the Upper Room. A new story begins. Without end.
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James