FIFTH SUNDAY LENT: John 11:1-45
“Raising of Lazarus from the Dead”
Today’s Reading is the turning point in John’s Gospel with Martha’s faith declaration of Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God who is to come into the world,” which is as profound as that of Peter in Matthew’s Gospel. It is the confession that the reader of this gospel is to make. The whole Gospel turns on this declaration by Martha, her proclamation of Jesus as Christ, the Anointed One. And so should it be our proclamation. That is why this is the third and last Scrutiny for the RCIA candidates. Will they be ready to make that declaration at their Baptism on the Easter Vigil Liturgy? Are we still able to make that declaration ourselves, “You are the Christ,” and even further, “You are my Lord and my Life?
The RCIA Program prepares the candidates for their Baptismal Promises, so our life as Christians prepares us to make that statement every day; definitively on our death beds.
And Lazarus was raised from the dead, and so will we after our death. But the difference between Jesus and Lazarus is that Lazarus was still wearing his burial clothes! When Jesus rose from the tomb, he left his burial clothes in the tomb! Oh, one other small thing, Lazarus would have to die again!
A true Christian looks forward to death, and being resurrected into Eternal Life, not resuscitated. Why be resuscitated into a life that we would just have to die again, like Lazarus? Why be resuscitated into a life with all our aches and pains and illnesses and diseases. No way! Pull the plugs and let me go! Many people in our society want to hang on until science finds a way to beat death. Maybe some want to stay with the devil they know rather than meet the devil they don’t know.
Maybe we should talk about what it might be like after death…let you know your options. Well, one place is very hot, uncomfortable, to say the least. In the Gospel of Luke, the rich man went there, while the other poor man named Lazarus went to the bosom of Abraham. And when Jesus visited the apostles after his resurrection and appeared to walk through walls and locked doors, he had to prove he was not a ghost or spirit! He asked them for some fish to clear up that notion. He met the disciples, after their unsuccessful fishing trip, on the shore with some cooked fish the day after the resurrection.
But the next life is not just the same old, same old, but a new life. As Saint Paul mentions in his letters, we will be a new creation. If we had any handicaps…gone! If we had any addictions…gone! If we had any bad habits…gone. Those all need bodies. We will be ourselves, but not exactly; as Jesus said, we will be like angels.
But will it really matter? Will we be going home to a place or to a relationship? In other words, does it really matter where we are, as much as whom we are with? That is why our confession to Jesus as the Christ, is so important, so that we can build on that confession, to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord and with those we love.
My Mom was very close to the Lord. One day she was praying her rosary, and in my youthful period of self-centeredness, I asked my Mom out of the blue, “Do you love God more than me?” She had told me many time of how much she loved the Lord, how much she loved God. She was quiet for a moment and then deliberately said, “I love God more than you!” I don’t know why, but it struck me very powerfully. My mother loves God more than me! Rather than get angry, I found asking myself, “Who is this God that my mother loves more than me, and why?”
And one day I was blessed with the answer. Ah! Now I know why my mother loves God more than me.
Now it is up to you to find the answer for yourself.
But I will tell you point blank, you will not find the answer sitting on your but’s. You will only find the answer when you pick up the Scriptures and seriously read them and pray them, like Saint Augustine and Saint Ignatius Loyola.
Besides Martha’s faith statement or proclamation of who she believed Jesus was, she also believed that “…whatever you ask God, God would give you.” That is a faith statement in itself!
In the Eucharist we are also given this chance to ask God, through Jesus Christ, to ask of him whatever we want…within reason. Hopefully we will ask God to grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord in this life, so we never have to worry about where we are going in the next life, but who we will meet!