"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"
I have heard and read the story of Lazarus so many times and this year, this one line has impacted me as if it's the first time I see it. Do I believe this? Do I believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?
Do we believe this? Do we believe that our one and only mission here on earth is to make it to the next life, the life eternal, and bring others there with us?
Recently I came across this beautiful section from a sermon by St. Augustine, written in the second century. I'd like it to be our "deaconstructing" reflection for this week.
Because men love to live on this earth, life is promised them; and because they exceedingly fear to die, eternal life is promised them. What do you love? To live. This you shall have. What do you fear? To die.
You shall not suffer it. This seemed to be enough for human infirmity, that it should be said, "You shall have eternal life." This, the mind of man can comprehend, by its present condition it can in some sort comprehend what is to be. But by the imperfection of its present condition how far can it comprehend it? Because he lives, and does not wish to die; he loves eternal life, he wishes to live always, never to die. But they who shall be tormented in punishments, have even a wish to die, and cannot. It is no great thing then to live long, or to live forever; but to live blessedly is a great thing.
Let us love eternal life, and hereby may we know how greatly we ought to labour for eternal life, when we see men who love the present life, which lasts but for a time and must be brought to an end, labour so for it, that when the fear of death comes, they will do whatever they can, not to put away, but to put off death.
How does a man labour, when death threatens, by flight, by concealment, by giving all he has, and redeeming himself, by toil, by endurance of torments and uneasinesses, by calling in physicians, and whatever else a man can do? See, how that after exhausting all his labour and his means, he is but able to contrive to live a little longer; to live always, he is not able.
If then men strive with so great labour, with so great efforts, so great a cost, such earnestness, such watchfulness, such carefulness, that they may live a little longer; how should they strive that they may live forever? And if they are called wise, who by all means strive to put off death, and live a few days, that they lose not a few days: how foolish are they who so live as to lose the day eternal!
St. Augustine, Sermon 127.2
For what do you labour? What do you work hard for? Life here on earth or life eternal? Do you love more this life or the life that is to come? Our hope is not to be Lazarus who is brought back to this life or people who do not die.
Our hope is eternal life!
Image: 12th Century Icon of the Raising of Lazarus.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org