Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

5th SUNDAY OF LENT: I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THELIFE

Jn 11:1-45

MOST OF US have some experiences of death in our respective families. The departure of a beloved is not easy to bear. Death is a painful reality. Through this pain, we can easily understand the feelings and emotions of Martha and Mary over the loss of their brother, Lazarus. If God were to visit us at a time when our loved one dies unexpectedly, we would also tell him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother (or sister or friend) would not have died.
 
For us, Filipinos, every family member is important and is being valued. We would not want a member to leave us much sooner. We want him or her to stay with us. We don’t want him or her to die, in other words.
 
However, in the moments when we experience pain because one has died, we also find a consolation in and through the words of Jesus. Let us recall the words that Jesus uttered to Martha: “Your brother will rise…”, and the other one, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Both words of Jesus are words of promise and hope. Look! Jesus did not say, “I am the death and resurrection” but ‘I am the resurrection and the life.” In the eyes of Jesus or in God, it will always be life. In the eyes of God, the person who dies actually lives.
 
What is simply needed from us is faith. When Jesus asked Martha: “Do you believe this?”, her answer was, “Yes Lord…..” 
 
People who have no faith in the resurrection, would simply look at life as a process from birth to dust and death comes along as a humiliation to make a mockery of their living, their hopes, their plans and dreams. For them, there is nothing to hope for and to expect after a person dies. 
 
But it is not the same with Christians, with the Catholics, in particular. We are a people of faith. We, Christians, need to realize that actually, death is a great moment of life. Death can be the fulfillment of our hope and longings. We yearn for heaven. We long to see God. And these can only be had in and though death. 
 
Certainly, this does not come easy to us. However, in our world today, death is becoming more predictable. There are illnesses which remain incurable, like cancer. And more and more people are afflicted by this disease. Cancer before was a one-off illness, but now, it is becoming more out of control. If only people see how precarious life is, then it is much easier to accept death. And Christian death is something meaningful.
 
LENTEN SEASON can be seen as a call for us to undergo the process of dying so that in the end we can live. There are many areas of dying that we could look into. One is in the area of independence. Some of us do things in the name of independence or some would call it, freedom. But if freedom from God is simply meant to rebel against him by making our life no longer in accord with his will, then, that is not freedom at all. There are young people who left their families in the name of independence. Unfortunately, some have failed because instead of becoming free, they are actually enslaved by sins. The other area that we should look into is our attitudes. Pride is one attitude which badly affects every relationship. Pride does not give life. It ends every relationship or it makes every relationship dead.
 
In these cases, dying is called for. Like Lazarus, we need to come out from these “tombs of independence” and “tombs of pride” so that we may live and become free. 
 

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