|5th Sunday of Lent, 2 April 2017|
From the Dean’s Desk
With this, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we are challenged to consider perhaps the most daunting element of our human existence ~ that of death, resurrection and eternal life. The after-life, our existence beyond the moment of death, what happens to us when we die, have been issues that have fascinated the minds of people for centuries. Much has been written and presented in the media concerning the after-life with various forms of stories about people ‘living’ beyond death. We hear of various television programs that touch on these questions: Glitch, The Returned, Resurrection and the like. As fascinating as these stories are, they remain at the level of fiction and fantasy. Today’s Gospel [John 11:1-45], however presents us with the Christian understanding of life after death, resurrection and Jesus Christ as the source of Eternal Life and Resurrection. It prefigures his own death and his destruction of the power of death through his Resurrection on that first Easter morning.
In today’s Gospel we hear of Jesus challenging Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, regarding their faith in the Resurrection and in Jesus as the source of eternal life: ‘I am the resurrection and the life, if anyone believes in me, even though they die, they will live…do you believe this?’ [John 11:25-26]. This challenge becomes more essential as Lazarus’ sisters seem a little upset at the fact that Jesus took four days to answer their request to come and see their brother, who at the time was still alive, although sick. All of us have experienced death, and in those moments when death takes one who is close and intimate in our lives. We too can challenge Jesus as Martha does in today’s Gospel: ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died...’ [John 11:22]. The experience of the death of a loved one may leave us also experiencing the absence of God. It is then that our faith in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life is deepened and we too, if we place our faith in him, can also exclaim with Martha: ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ [John 11:27].
Emeritus Pope Benedict again captures the importance of this Sunday’s liturgy. He states that “when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life opens our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.”
May our faith in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life continue to be strengthened as we journey through Lent to Easter.
Fr Robert Bossini