M artha : W here have you been ? L azarus : W ith life . M ary : D o you know who called you back ? L azarus : L ife . H e is here and he has never left me . The light and heat imagery also returns at the end of Sayers’ treatment of Judas, as he gets his only theophanic glimpse during Jesus’ crucifixion. Judas goes to Caiaphas to return the
Lazarus too, though more naturally depressive than
a fire.” Without faith, the light and heat of Jesus’ presence is unbearable. Judas is consumed by pride and hate, and even in this realization of Jesus’ innocence and his own guilt he still cannot humble himself: “If I crawled to the gallows’ foot and asked his pardon, he would forgive me – and my soul would writhe forever under the torment of that forgiveness.” The searing, painful brilliancy of holiness is all that Judas, in his pride, can
Mary Magdalene, can feel “that immense vitality at which a man may warm himself as at a fire.” It is this life, this vitality, which forms an important part of Jesus’ mission in Sayers’ eyes. “That is what I’m here for,” Jesus says, “I came that men should lay hold of life and possess it to the full.” Jesus quotes from Proverbs 8:29-31 about Wisdom taking part in creation. The line that follows has the note, “John: (a little startled – it sounds almost autobiographical): Master, of whom is that said?” Sayers was specifically taking this opportunity to make Christological connections, as the scene is otherwise based on two Gospel stories, that of Mary and Martha from Luke 9 and the sinful woman of Luke 7 and other details that set up several scenes that follow. It expresses both the ordinariness of friends sitting around, telling stories (including a suggestion that Jesus prefers fig-stuffing) and the glimpse into Jesus’ divinity. In the beginning notes for this play Sayers even describes the scene as “shot through with a strong mood of ‘God-consciousness,’” a term which she uses to simply mean Jesus was consciously thinking about his divinity. When Lazarus later succumbs to death, it is that vitality that brings him back in Play 7, Scene 4, Sequence 3: M ary : Y ou are smiling – you are laughing – you are alive ! L azarus ( joyfully ): Y es , I am alive !
30 pieces of silver and says that the knowledge of Jesus’ innocence gives him a vision of “what hell-fire is”: “It is the light of God’s unbearable innocence that sears and shrivels you like flame.” Notice how starkly this compares to Lazarus’ description of Jesus’ presence in Play 7: “that immense vitality at which a man may warm himself as at
experience of what others know as warmth and aliveness. Sayers uses light and heat imagery to show that Jesus’ divinity becomes clear when characters are at their most honest – either in faith or in hate .
St. Thomas Lumen Winter 2020 Page 23
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