Death, Life, Love, Hope
(5th Sunday of Lent: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45)
Jesus was, in a way, testing Martha’s faith, when he said, “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,” and then asked her, “Do you believe this?”
If he had asked, “Do you understand this?” the conversation might have taken a different turn. But Martha’s response expressed her faith in Jesus himself, and thus in everything he said or did. “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
Later we read, “And Jesus wept. So the Jews said: See how he loved him.” Love and tears are not strangers to each other.
The Beautiful Lady wept. We can see, therefore, how she loves us, and longs for us to believe that her Son is the resurrection and the life, to trust in his word.
Every time I encounter the phrase ’my people’ in the Bible, I think of La Salette. In today’s first reading, that connection is especially strong. This passage concludes the famous episode of the Valley of the Dry Bones. Until now, in Ezekiel, God has spoken about his people, rarely to them. But here he addresses them directly, and with what feeling: “O my people!” Can they ever doubt his love again?
The appropriate response to that question is found in today’s Psalm: “If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness that you may be revered... For with the Lord is kindness and with him is plenteous redemption.”
St. Paul uses an image very different from that of dry bones, but to the same effect. To live in the flesh is to be spiritually dead. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The Blessed Virgin wants her people to understand this.
The message of La Salette, like all of our readings today, highlights God's will to restore us to life. In the words of the first reading: “I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.”
Sometimes we find ourselves praying “out of the depths.” We need never despair. Lazarus was not a lost cause. Neither are we.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse