Discalced Carmelite Friars

Semi Province of St. Therese

OCDS Central

Reflections - Believing - “Oil” - Jesus in John 11

Before the Blessed Sacrament:  What does it mean, to believe?  THIS is the serenity – it goes deeper than the word, “serenity.”

“Digging for oil” – Once reached, the main “work” is accomplished – the oil flows, provides power to many.  Dynamics of digging, till the “destination” is reached.  The “believing” – pondering, knowing to continue, not stopping short.  It is SO pivotal, so much rides on this work of reaching the “oil.”  Keep our eyes on Jesus.  (Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”  God’s Word shows me how to get where I’m going, and why, the Goal, WHO it is).

“Oil” – “God’s Grandeur.”

Oil – how it’s made’ condensed – “trampled” – it oozes.  It’s hidden; after it’s formed, it’s tapped.

“Oil” – the Holy Spirit.  Unction, anointing – makes all the difference.

Oil – the Holy Spirit – Love of the Father and the Son.  Reciprocity.  Readily available to be poured; First, must tap in.  “The Holy Spirit is the gift that comes into the heart together with prayer.” (Dominum et Vivificantem, St. John Paul II).  Luke 11:13 – “How much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Holy Spirit – oxygen

Holy Spirit – brings gift and fruit of faith, believing – Strengthen the presence of the Holy Spirit, STRENGTHEN FAITH, BELIEVING.

WORK OF BELIEVING – essential work.

Fullness of life, is full presence and working of the Holy Spirit.  To be filled, must open, be opened.  To be opened, in this life, entails suffering – “labor pains” (John 16).  In order to “give birth” to each of God’s bestowals of “new life” (baby, etc.).  What do labor pains do?  They dilate, open the way.


Seeing that, comes from recognition of being a child, a son or daughter of God.  “Abba!”

That’s at the heart:  always turning toward, looking at God – all meaning from that, being able to recognize how each event, each circumstance is a labor pain to open to Christ.

PRAISE – “PRIZE” – A root of the word, “praise,” is “prize.”  Real communion, thus fruitfulness, comes from those who are of he heart and one mind (Acts 4) in realizing and abiding in prizing God above all – the greatest tidal waves of dissension can be broken when JESUS is LORD, and the desire for Him to be so prevails.  Praising God nurtures this.  Thus, the “Tehillim, “praises,” prayed daily.

NOTHING separates us from the love of God – when that happens, the “oil” flows, enlivens deeply, far and ever wider, the greater the access to the “oil.”  This is priority.


(I was just astonished!  As I now just read again the gospel, I noticed the second sentence:  “Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair…”).

  • Why was Jesus “perturbed?”  And it’s mentioned twice?

In the depths of his soul, his being, he is aware of the bewailing, the naysaying, the tragedy of sin and death, the lack of faith, the misplaced focus and attention, the devastation of his close friends, and more.  Perhaps he is also sensing a preview of his Passion, and the magnitude of preparing for that, with this event being a foreshadowing.

Underlying all of this:  He knows what the Father is calling him to now, on the heels of the previous hours of already preparing for this moment.  This watershed moment is also entering into spiritual battle, the enemy closing in to distract, detour, try to prevent this manifestation of God’s glory, his salvation and his miraculous intervention, opening the way for believing, opening hearts to God.

  • Being aware of all of this, it is humanly perturbing.  He will not pretend, nor sidestep the situation just described in the preceding verses.  He totally enters in, resolute in accomplishing the victory, through his acknowledgement of the Father, his priority of certitude and gratitude to the Father, the prime goal goal in this action:  for those in the crowd to believe that the Father sent him. 

Only after that does he proceed – to call Lazarus forth from the dead to life, showing the glory of God.

  • Jesus’ seemingly protracted response is laden with purpose.  Everything prepares for his crying “out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’, the pinnacle moment when his work is manifest.

He “cries out in a loud voice.”  That cry comes from his depths, the depths from just a few verses prior, when he was “perturbed,” and “Jesus wept.”  THIS is where the WORK takes place, preparing for the resurrection of Lazarus – of JESUS – with him is “plenteous redemption.”  (“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, O Lord, hear my voice!”  Psalm 130).

Back to the verses of Jesus’ progression from his being summoned to Bethany, his wait in responding, and his ensuing dialogues with Martha and Mary, their devastation at their brother’s death can be readily imagined.  Why did Jesus “delay?”  Look at their faith that was called forth!  As his friends, they were “coworkers” in the subsequent miracles of believing that took place in even more hearts.

     A paragraph that draws further attention is Jesus’ arrival at the edge of the village.  He stops and talks with Mary.  He does not immediately manifest his divine intervention, but stops and enters the moment.  He is perturbed, and he weeps.  He opens himself to the hearts that are open to him, and takes their suffering upon himself. Still, he does not act overtly yet.

     For ourselves, when a situation cries out for God’s deliverance, Jesus’ mercy and salvation, it is not time to act out of only human ability or effort or sizing matters up.  The greater the seriousness of the situation, the greater the need to especially let Jesus lead the way.  Mary sat at home.  She was not able to budge until she heard of Jesus’ presence, then immediately responds.  Martha responds upon hearing that Jesus is coming.

     From human observance, this paragraph (verses 28-43) gives a picture of being overcome.  But as in Jesus’ crucifixion, it is where the heart of the “work” – redemption – and believing (John 6:29) takes place, preceding the Resurrection, new life – salvation, and increased believing.  This apparent being overcome is actually when Jesus is rallying; on one hand, stopping, opening to the pain around himself, showing his human nature, with no sign of the imminent, astounding miracle – while at the same time, fully present to the Father in his hypostatic union.  This is a prime moment of contemplation, SO integral to our “work,” the necessary believing that is “knowing,” that stops in its tracks to acknowledge utter dependence upon and trust in God.  It is believing that is drawn from the reality of Jesus’ filial relationship with the Father.  This recognition must be constant, and particularly to be more rooted in God, to supercede the swirling of all types of undermining.  Perhaps Jesus was also taking his time, interceding for those present to be able to open their hearts to believing.

     Then, when the sufficient, preparatory time had passed, Jesus raises his eyes to his Father, thanks him, with certitude, and gives birth to his cry that penetrates Lazarus’ body with the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit  Holy “oil” – that also penetrates many hearts.

     For us, let us see our lives and its circumstances through the lens that recognizes Jesus’ presence and action as in this passage from John’s gospel.  And let us follow Jesus’ command to “untie” and “let go” our brothers and sisters who have received new life from Jesus, to be able to go forth to believe and live more fully.

Written by "A Listening Heart"
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Other Blogs by Secular Discalced Carmelites:

  • Bethany Hang Out – a blog by Shawn Chapman, OCDS. Shawn is a member of the Austin community of Secular Discalced Carmelites. She also writes regularly for ATX Catholic online.
  • Elizabeth Explores Writing - a blog by Elizabeth Ogilvie, OCDS. Elizabeth is a Secular Discalced Carmelite of the U.S. Central Province.
  • Gray Rising – a blog by Tim Bete, OCDS. Tim is a member of the community of the Secular Discalced Carmelites in Dayton, OH.
  • Hearth Cake and a Jug of Water – Mary Bellman, a member of the Dallas OCDS community, sends out a daily Carmelite quotation by e-mail. Send her an email at bellman.mary@gmail.com if you would like to be added on her mailing list and receive these Carmelite quotations.
  • Illumina, Domine – a blog by Pat Enk, a Secular Discalced Carmelite of the U.S. Central Province.