Weekend Reflections for 3/31/17
April brings the holiest days of the Christian year: the conclusion of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. This Sunday, we hear about The Raising of Lazarus
[John 11:1-45, http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040217.cfm].
Funerals are always hard. We’ve lost someone we love. Perhaps it was a teacher, a friend, a parent, or even a spouse. Fr Bob Costello SJ died last month. He was the president at SLU High when I was a student. A fast-moving form of cancer overwhelmed his body in less than a month. Fr Bob was a fine leader, a joyful priest, and an inspiration to me.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is informed of the death of His close friend, Lazarus. Jesus often spent time with Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha and Mary speak a heartbreaking sentence to Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus sees their sorrow and their tears. Jesus weeps with His friends.
Death was not part of God’s original plan for the human race. Every death is a tragedy. It is right to mourn the loss of each human life, especially our family members and closest friends. A relationship has ended. We cry out, “It’s not supposed to be this way!” Jesus agrees. Sin and death have damaged and changed our experience of life.
But the story doesn’t end there. At the tomb, Jesus commands, "Take away the stone." This looks like sheer madness, even to Martha. Is Jesus asking them to unearth a grave and dig up a dead man? “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus says. Death does not have the last word. The raising of Lazarus foreshadows the Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus has passed through suffering and death into eternal life. His Resurrection points to our resurrection. Our bodies may die. But the spirits of the faithful are in the hands of God. And He will reunite our bodies with our spirits on the last day.
Jesus has a Risen Body right now. Thus, every Christian funeral is both sad and joyful at the same time. We can sing through our tears. We smile while we weep. The spirits of the faithful are in the hands of God. And one day their bodies will be in Heaven, too. Christians live in this faith. Jesus is our resurrection and our life; in Him we live and rise again. We live in hope.
-Fr Joe Laramie, SJ