Given by The Most Reverend Paul Kwong Bishop of Hong Kong and Archbishop, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
Most Worshipful Brethren, Right Worshipful Brethren and Guests.
You would all be familiar with our Lord’s miracle of the raising of Lazarus, as told in the gospel of St. John, Chapter 11 verses 1-44.
Much has been written about the immense faith of Martha and Mary, both of whom truly believed that her brother would not have passed away had our Lord been present with them, and of our Lord’s declaration to Martha that “I am the resurrection and the live; he who believes in my, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”
But let us pause for a moment to consider the words of one of the disciples during this event. v16b Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
In bidding his fellow disciples to go with our Lord, Thomas was promoting a sense of unity. “Let us also go.” Jesus had already decided to go, and may well have gone on alone to Bethany, there to be received by Martha some two miles out of the village.
But Thomas bade them go, also, that they might accompany Jesus, and then all be together, side by side, in support of Mary and Martha in their bereavement. By also going, in unity, the support which they were able to offer was all the more strong;
where as individuals, they could each offer only a fraction of the support which they were able to offer in unity. So it is of any act made in unity.
Even more than unity, Thomas’ words also promoted a sense of charity. “Let us also go” The decision to go was entirely voluntary, based solely on their heart-felt concern for Mary and Martha in their bereavement. One of the times in life when charity is most needed and most deeply appreciated is at the time of the loss of a loved one. “That we may die with him” is a somewhat picturesque way of illustrating the stalwartness of Thomas’ commitment to Lazarus: that they would be with Lazarus up to and including the moment of his passing. Even to have afforded Lazarus a brief visit during his illness, would have been an act of charity, but Thomas was committed to go all the further and “die with” Lazarus.
Much that we do can be fortified by unity. Just as Thomas bade his fellow-disciples be unified with Jesus in their journey to Bethany, so we can be unified in our various journeys in our respective ministries. A strong component of those ministries is charity, by means of which much good can be occasioned to those whom we encounter along those journeys. May God instil in our ministries a sense of charity, and may our ministries be strengthened by a sense of unity.