Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in him, though they die, will not stay dead. In him they will live for God and be dead to sin.
There cannot be dead folks among those who believe in Jesus. This flies in the face of my sorrow due to the death two days ago of a brother-in-law who believed. Yet this is clearly the teaching of the one who assures his friend Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies will live; everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Yes, due to death we sob, sigh and weep. We even get angry as we become poignantly aware that, in the end, we cannot beat death.
And the same happens to Jesus in the face of Lazarus’ death and Martha’s and Mary’s grief. But the Teacher does not stop at the pain he feels. For he is sure, too, that God is not God of the dead, but of the living.
And Jesus embodies God’s love that is stronger than death. Hence, this Sent One of the Father cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” Right away the latter comes out of the place of the dead. Then, he gets to be free of all that ties him to death. And also from the reality that restrains, and to which Martha points as she says: “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” And, no doubt, the raising of Lazarus looks ahead to Jesus’ rising, free from death.
Alive in a new way, not dead
All that remains for each one of us to do is to answer him who asks, “Do you believe this?” Hopefully, the answer will be like Martha’s: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” If we reply so, the new life of those who die with faith in Jesus will be ours, too. Though we still live on earth.
Surely, there will be those who will say we just harbor delusions and nice feelings.
But is it all that bad to hope and strive? Is it good to despair and give up, to just be resigned and not do anything? We can be like snails, locked up in shells (SV.EN XII:81). But is it not a better way of life to reach out to others, even by way of a prayer of despair? To seek help and to help, to eat and drink, and let others eat and drink, too?
Lord Jesus, let us not be as dead as those who give up all hope. Rather, let us live in a new way by being joy and light to the world through your Spirit.
26 March 2023
Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
Ez 37, 12-14; Rom 8, 8-11; Jn 11, 1-45