New Life: A True Gift!
A man was surprised to read the announcement of his own death in the obituary column of the local newspaper. Ringing up his close friend, he enquired, “Did you see the announcement of my death in the paper this morning?” ”Yes,” was the frightened answer in a shivering voice. “But where are you speaking from? Heaven or Hell?”
We are a week away from the start of the Holy Week. In the next two weeks, we will live the Gospel passage of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus asks us to have faith in him. During the fifth Sunday of Lent Year A, the prophet Ezekiel reminds the Israelites during their Babylonian captivity of the Lord’s promise to not only bring us back to life, but to bring us back to home. St. Paul, in the second reading, assures us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and who dwells within us, will give life to our mortal bodies. In the Gospel, the revival of Lazarus is the foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus cries at the tomb of Lazarus. When confronted with death, Jesus reacted the same way you and I react. He cried. But then Jesus did something: he called Lazarus out of the grave. He did this not just because he wanted his friend to live, but because he wanted us to know that he was the Lord of Life.
Believing in Jesus is not just a life and death issue. it is also a death and life issue. Believing in Jesus gives us the ability to enjoy his life even after our death. Believing in Jesus helps us make some sense of the mystery of death in the world. Our loved ones die to this world, but live in the Lord.
In living our faith, in practicing Christian morality, we are often confronted with life and death issues, but this does represent a complete view of Christianity. The martyrs knew this. And they refused to deny Christ but not because they wanted to die. They chose Christ because they wanted to live. As Christians, we have to have a profound faith, a fundamental belief, in death and life.
How can we understand death? We can only understand death as a transition from this life to the next. It can happen two ways, one way is die to this world physically, or another is to die to this world spiritually. When we leave this world we have eternal life; when we leave the selfish man, we are resurrected, and we are in spirit and new life.
The Sacraments are special ways we meet Jesus and receive grace of life. This reading is also relevant for our RCIA candidate, Michael, as he prepares for the Sacraments. It is relevant for all of as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection. He comes and touches us with new life.