A Word #139| Fifth Sunday of Lent| April 2, 2017

Mar 29, 2017

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

 One of my professors in the Seminary would often remind us in class that "life is terminal." Our life here on Earth has a beginning and end. The beginning of our life is often celebrated but the end of life is usually something feared or avoided. We don't like to talk about dying even though we know death will come to us one day whether to us personally or to someone we love. The sting of death is often the sorrow and grief that the separation death creates. Yet for us who possess faith in Jesus Christ know that death does not have the final word, Jesus does. In the Gospel, Jesus manifests to us through the raising of His friend Lazarus that He even has power over life and death.

The narrative of the raising of Lazarus is probably after the Passion narrative the most dramatic retelling of a singular event in the public ministry of Jesus. There are a lot of questions regarding particularly why didn't Jesus go immediately to Bethany to heal his friend once He learned that Lazarus was sick? Although there may not be an answer to such curiosity, what unfolded throughout this narrative is extremely important as Holy Week approaches. 

The raising of Lazarus is both a coming to faith story but also a revelation. In their grief, Martha and Mary come to believe that Jesus is the life and the resurrection. They come to believe that Jesus as the Son of God has the power to give life and also take it away. When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (not the same as Jesus' own resurrection) Jesus reveals to everybody present that He truly is the Son of God because only God can restore life. 

Through the lens of Holy Week, the raising of Lazarus allows us to see and understand that if Jesus can restore life back to Lazarus, He could also do something more impressive and mysterious such as the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. What Jesus will accomplish from Good Friday to Easter Sunday gives Jesus the final word over death. Death is no longer the end but rather the path to eternal life. On Easter Sunday, Jesus becomes the Victor over the finality of death.

Thus for us as men and women of faith, death is neither to be feared nor avoided but celebrated because it is merely the path to life eternal. Although we will grieve the loss of our loved one's presence, we know in faith they now continue to live in the life that awaits them. As Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He too knows the pain that the separation of death brings for that reason He did what He did during Holy Week so that through death life continues. Do you believe this too?

In Christ,

 

Fr. John