Life Is Changed, Not Ended

The Raising of Lazarus

5th Sunday of Lent

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: March 26, 2023

“Jesus wept.”  Jesus was crying, he was disturbed.  He experienced the mystery of death in the death of someone he loved, his friend Lazarus.  Jesus was grieving, he was mourning.  When we experience the death of a loved one, we come face to face with the mystery of death.  Like Jesus we grieve, we mourn in the face of death. We wonder, does our life end in an empty grave?

But, Jesus reveals to Martha and to us, the ultimate plan of God.  He says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  We see Jesus call into the grave, “Lazarus, come out.”  Jesus calls him by name.  Jesus calls each one of us by name as well.  Jesus grieves the ways that we are dead in our lives, the ways we are dead in our sins.  Jesus calls us personally by name to come rise up from being dead.  Sometimes we are dead before dying.  We are not living our lives.  Jesus calls us by name to rise up and live.

Jesus longs for us to have life to the full, to be set free from all that enslaves us, all that leads our spirits to die in this life.  In Jesus, the living God is saying to us, trust in me, you are in my hands, I have a plan for you and it is not a grave.  One of my favourite prayers in the Catholic Funeral Rite is found in one of the prefaces for a funeral.  It says, “Life is changed, not ended.”

Love is greater than death.  Death is not the end.

The Cross is not a sign of death, it is a sign of love, a sign of the ultimate victory of love over death.

Love is the key.  We worry about teaching our children the faith.  But, first we need to teach our children to love.  For only when we see with the eyes of love will we also see with eyes of faith.  With the eyes of love we are able to understand the cross and the resurrection.  With the eyes of love we are able to face the mystery of death and see beyond the grave to the call of Jesus, “come out.”

Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God.  Each one of us in Jesus is a beloved child of God.  But, as we fall into sin, mistakes, greed, selfishness, self-centredness, something can die within us.  We can enter a grave even before dying.  We need to hear Jesus calling us by name, “come out.”  Then we can come out and see again with the eyes of love.  We can live in the image and likeness of God, as a beloved child of God.  We see with the eyes of love that death is not the end.

Jesus is “the resurrection and the life,” in Jesus, God calls us by name.  God is saying to you, trust in me, you are in my hands, my plan for you is not a grave.  Love is greater than death.

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