I believe in the resurrection of the dead. For Christians, the fact that every living creature on earth must die is not a source of despair. It is a source of hope since the resurrection of Christ opens the way to our resurrection. On this fifth Sunday of Lent, we are once again strongly reminded that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in him will enjoy eternal life.
When the people of Israel were in exile, the Lord showed the prophet a vision of a valley filled with dry bones. He breathed on them, and they came to life. They became a great army. This vision foretells the rebirth of Israel as a great nation that will be restored to life in the Promised Land. Taken further, it prefigures the resurrection of the dead through the Spirit of God. As we are close to celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord, we also anticipate our resurrection through Him.
The second reading from Chapter eight of the Letter to the Romans describes life in the Spirit in detail. It tells us how the Spirit of Christ transforms us. In this passage, St. Paul tells us how the Spirit of the Risen Christ lives in us and empowers us. This enables us to enjoy the fruits of eternal life even while still alive in this world. It is this same Spirit of God that leads us to the truth and gives us a deeper appreciation of God’s gift to us. The same Spirit gives us the strength to do God’s work daily.
Last Sunday, Jesus gave sight to a man born blind. Today, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and reaffirms that he alone can give life. Although this is not eternal life since Lazarus returned to everyday life and would die again, it also becomes an opportunity for Jesus to give us a glimpse into the Christian resurrection that transforms us into a new way of life by giving us participation in the divine life. This is the last of the signs of Jesus in the gospel of John and it clearly shows his divine power because only God can give life. At the same time, he weeps and shares in the human sorrow of his friends.
As we draw closer to the Holy Week, we observe the increase in the tempo of the conversation between Jesus and the Jews as they become more confrontational. As the tension rises, we see a sudden break in the rhythm as Jesus attends to the needs of a family in distress. He heard of the illness of his friend but delays his visit until after Lazarus fell asleep. They arrived to meet the people in mourning and the dialogue between Jesus and Martha reveals something about this unusual delay in action. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in him will live.
This is a statement that is rich in meaning. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. His death gives us life. His Paschal Mystery, (Passion, Death, and Resurrection) which we shall soon celebrate, immerses us in this life-giving, and life-saving mystery. Jesus not only reassures us of life here. He guarantees that all who believe in him will enjoy eternal life. The critical question here is: do you believe that Jesus has conquered sin and death through his own death and resurrection? Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in him is a participant in the new life that he brings. By raising Lazarus, Jesus calls us from sin that leads to death into a new life. With Christ we are alive. With him, we are renewed and rejuvenated. With him, we enjoy the fruits of eternal life.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, You are the resurrection and the life. In the Eucharist, You give us yourself as food for the journey and strengthen us in our fight against temptation and sin. Give strength to our weary bodies and immerse us in your abundant goodness. Roll away the stones that prevent us from meeting you and release souls bound by sin and renew our resolve to always follow you.
As you called Lazarus out of the grave, call us from sickness into health, from sadness into joy; from the darkness of sin into your life of grace, from failure to success in different areas of our lives, from doubt to a deep and sincere faith in your power to save us. May God bless every member of the Ascension Family through Christ our Lord. Amen.