A Reflection on the Gospel, March 26, 2023
Death and evil are all around us. Natural disasters throughout the world take hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lives at once as in Turkey and Northern Syria. Children are gunned down in the middle of a school day. Sometimes it is hard to believe that God is in charge. Sometimes it is hard to hope.
In today’s gospel, Martha is overcome with grief at the death of her brother, Lazarus. She acknowledges that she understands that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day, but that does not take away all her pain. She wants him here… now. Jesus shares her grief. The scripture tells us he is deeply troubled, even weeps.
When Jesus reminds Martha that he is the resurrection and the life he reminds her that, “whoever believes in me, even if he dies will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus brings Lazarus back to life. Lazarus is resuscitated, and given mortal life again. But mortal life is not all there is. In Jesus, Lazarus, and Martha and we are promised more, life that will never end..
The Jesus who resuscitated Lazarus is alive and well and living among us. Even in the midst of death and evil, love and commitment to life can be found. He lives in the “White Hats”, those rescuers in white helmets who endanger their own lives searching through the wreckage for survivors of an earthquake. He lives in those parents who have lost a child to gun violence and turn their grief into action to end gun violence so that other parents do not experience their crushing grief.
Belief in Jesus as our resurrection and life is not simply “afterlife insurance;” it is a commitment to live our lives as he lived his, to confront evil with love and death with life. And in the words of the prayer, to bring love where there is hatred, pardon where there is injury, faith where there is doubt, hope where there is despair, light where there is darkness, joy where there is sadness.
Jesus promises that if we believe in him and live that belief, we will never die. We are promised more than mortal life. And if we live that way, our “more than” life can begin here.