Today it is the ‘lesser festival’ of Mary, Martha and Lazarus – siblings who were great friends with Jesus. It really raised a smile for me at Morning Prayer today to see them described as Companions of our Lord. That is what I want to be. Imagine the ease with which Jesus spent time with this family. He was probably so friendly with them he could walk into their house whenever he felt like it and make himself comfortable. We get some glimpses of the personalities of the sisters in particular, imagine the dinner table conversations they had together! Through Mary, Martha and Lazarus we see how radical friendship with Jesus is. He debated with the women as if they were men, teaching them things usually reserved for men and cared for them as if they were his own family. Oh, and there’s the small detail of bringing Lazarus back to life as well.
It put me in mind of the lovely icon of St Menas with Christ, his friend alongside him, his companion:
I particularly like the wording of the collect for today, it encapsulates the wonder of friendship, and of how wonderful friendship is when Christ is in your circle of friends:
God our Father,
whose Son enjoyed the love of his friends,
Mary, Martha and Lazarus,
in learning, argument and hospitality:
may we so rejoice in your love
that the world may come to know
the depths of your wisdom, the wonder of your compassion,
and your power to bring life out of death;
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our friend and brother,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.