We began this year’s Lenten series looking at the Gospel of John, which this year appears in the Sunday Gospel readings during the next couple weeks of Lent. We began
by learning about John’s seven “I Am” statements:
1. I am the gate (10:7, 9)
2. I am the good shepherd (10:11, 14)
3. I am the true vine (15:1-5)
4. I am the bread of life (6:35, 48)
5. I am the light of the world (8:12; 9:5)
6. I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
7. I am the way, the truth and the life (14:6)
Three weeks ago
, we saw that I Am
is God’s name (Exodus 3:14). Two weeks ago
, we looked at how the Gospel of John makes it really clear that Jesus is God, and last week
, we saw how each of these statements represents one of the seven ways in which Jesus is present in our lives, fulfilling all our deepest longings.
Two Sundays ago, the Gospel reading at Mass was that of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus does not give her one of the seven “I Am” statements, but he does say “I am” to her (4:23-26). Last Sunday, we heard the Gospel of the healing of the man born blind. At the beginning of the story, Jesus tells the disciples, “I am the light of the world”
(John 9:5), but Jesus does not give the blind man one of the seven statements. He does, however, say to him “I am” (John 9:37).
Next Sunday's Gospel is the raising of Lazarus when Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
We’ve heard and read the story of the raising of Lazarus so many times and usually we focus on the end: on the actual raising of Lazarus. This is Jesus’ last miracle in the Gospel of John, and it is the miracle of miracles. Walking on water? Multiplying bread and fish? Turning water into wine? Healing the sick? Those are nothing compared with a dead man coming back to life. This is also the miracle that got Jesus killed. After this miracle the chief priests had that meeting and decided that it was better for one man to die than for a whole nation to perish, and they began plotting to kill him (John 11:45-53) – and not only him but also Lazarus (John 12:9-11).
But let’s focus on what Jesus says to Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Do you believe this?”
Not only is Jesus saying that he is the resurrection and the life, but, as we saw last week, he is saying that He is God. He is the God that fulfills our every need. He satisfies all our deepest longings. If you are in darkness, HE is the Light of the world. If you are hungry, HE is the Bread of Life; if you’re lost, HE is the Way and the Truth; if you need protection, HE is the GATE; if you need care and guidance, HE is the Good Shepherd; if you feel disconnected, HE is the true vine.
And for all those little parts of your life that are dead, dead because of addiction or abuse; dead because of pain or hopelessness; dead because of fear or doubt; dead because of isolation or separation, HE is the Resurrection and the life!
Do you believe this?
It doesn’t seem to me that Martha and Mary believe it. Mary just says, “Had you been here, my brother Lazarus would not have died.”
And when Jesus actually tells Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,”
and asks “Do you believe this?”
she doesn’t say, “Yes I believe that you are the Resurrection and the Life.” Instead she only says, “Yes, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah.”
And when Jesus asks them to remove the stone and open the grave, Martha is not thinking that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life; she’s thinking about the bad smell.
Do you believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life or are you only thinking about the bad smell?
Do you believe that God is a God of Life, that He has always been a God of Life, and that He will always be a God of Life?
That’s why in the first reading next Sunday, in the Book of Ezekiel, God can say that He is going to open graves and breathe life into dry bones (Ezekiel 37: 1-14). Do you believe that God will breathe life into your dry bones? And that’s why St. Paul tells the Romans in the second reading that the Spirit will bring their mortal bodies to life. Do you believe that the Spirit will give you life?
There’s a powerful scene in the movie, The Passion of the Christ
. Jesus has been arrested and sentenced to death. He has been tortured and is now carrying the cross on the way to Calvary. Mary, his mother, is with John, and they are trying to get to Jesus. They are running along back streets and side streets, trying to find a break in the crowd, and they do, just as Jesus is falling for the 7th or 8th time. As Jesus falls under the weight of the cross, Mary gets to him and holds his bloodied and swollen face in her hands. He looks up at her and says, “See, Mother, I make all things new.”
Do you believe that Jesus can and will make all things new?
Not some things but ALL things. Not sometimes but ALWAYS. Not one day in the future but TODAY. Do you believe this? Do you believe that he is the Way to Eternal Life? Our hope is not to be Lazarus, who is brought back to this life, or to be people who never die – as Martha and Mary wished Jesus would have prevented Lazarus from dying. Our hope is life eternal, everlasting life, abundant life (John 10:10) – in Heaven.
This week consider this:
What parts of your life are dead? What part of your life needs to be brought back to life?
Jesus fulfills our longing not to be victims of death: to be free. Do you believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life? Do you believe that he makes all things new? Because he wants to call you forth to come out from the darkness. He wants to untie you and set you free.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to combat sin and death. We are called to help others not to be enslaved and find the freedom that only Christ can give.
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, wants us to be free and to bring life and freedom to others.
This fourth week of Lent, let’s go and do as He has done.
And come back next week as we wrap up our reflection before we enter into Holy Week.
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