Fifth Week Of Lent: Jn 11:3-7,17,20-27,33B-45
So when Jesus comes to the town, he finds them mourning the death of Lazarus and wishing that Jesus had come sooner. They were disappointed. They might have expected him to do something to save Lazarus from dying. But Jesus surprises them by saying, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha says, “Yes, I know that he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.” But Jesus says, “No, you don’t understand. I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live. Do you believe this?”
That question is directed to us, each of us here and now. “I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?” We say in the Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” We have learned to say that. I myself would like to ask some adult converts when they were able to first believe in the resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus and their own future resurrection.
Someone once asked me, “When did you first believe in the resurrection?” And I thought back to my first communion. I was still a child, only seven years old, I guess, going to the parish school. And the Sisters prepared us well for our first communion. And, as a child, I didn’t need to think intellectually about it, not through the mind but from the heart. I realized that Jesus comes to me. Our catechism said “body, blood, soul, and divinity.” That was too much for me to understand, I think, but I realized that, in receiving the bread of the Eucharist, I was receiving Jesus himself as a point of contact, physical contact between myself and Jesus.
Jesus comes into me. He called Lazarus out of the tomb, which is a sign and symbol of his own coming resurrection, but Lazarus was only going to die again, but not an eternal death. His death would be something more: life with and in Jesus. In the Eucharist Jesus comes to us—the opposite movement from calling Lazarus out of the tomb. Jesus comes to us, comes into us with his life and resurrection for us—now and as the pledge of our future resurrection. When it will happen I do not know.
When we think of heaven, I think we transcend the idea of space. We don’t expect it’s going to be “here” or “there.” But it’s difficult to transcend the idea of time. Eternal life is without time—it’s everything at once. And I find it hard to believe that I will have to wait until the end of the world, if that ever comes or when it comes, how many hundreds or thousands or millions of years. I don’t want to wait that long for the resurrection. I want to die and rise again. I want to meet Jesus right at my death. I don’t know what the resurrection will mean to me then, but at least I will be in the presence of Jesus as Jesus is in me during this Eucharist.
March 26, 2023 St Ignatius 12:00 p.m. Mass
By Robert Chiesa, SJ