Jesus is the True Life Giver

03-21-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“Lord if you had been here my brother would never have died.” These words are from one of the Gospels we will read at some of the Masses in our parish this weekend. They are from John 11:1-45 which is the account of the raising of Lazarus after being dead four days in the tomb. Before those words were spoken to Jesus by the sisters of Lazarus they had sent word to Him that, “The one you love is ill.”

Jesus did not drop everything and come immediately and cure Lazarus. He waited two days and then went, two days too late as far as the sisters of Lazarus were concerned. But Jesus does far more than cure Lazarus from a fatal disease, He raises him back to life, a life Lazarus would one day leave again in death. The earthly joy of the sisters and Lazarus would one day be surpassed by the joy of God’s presence with one another in heaven.

Death will one day take all of us from this world and hopefully bring us into the fullness of life with God and all who are with Him in heaven. But as much as we do or don’t think about the physical death of our bodies, to be totally alive in this world we need to take a good look at what is draining life out of us and what puts life into us. What are those things that drain life out of us? Anger, disappointment, selfishness, vengeance, pleasure seeking, pride, apathy. It is in those situations and in all situations where we find life being drained out of us that we have to echo both messages of the sisters of Lazarus to Jesus. First of all we must admit that we are angry, disappointed, selfish, vengeful, seeking pleasure for the sake of pleasure, proud, and apathetic. Then we will either succumb and wind up being full of tension, confusion, guilt, or emptiness or we will look for a light or guide to lead us out. That light, that guide is Jesus. To paraphrase the words of the sisters of Lazarus we pray, “Lord, I am ill and I cannot heal myself.”

Jesus is the true life giver. There is nothing we can do except to keep Him at an “arm’s length” mentally to keep Him away. Feeling powerless is very humbling, but true humility enables us to rise above ourselves to the one who has conquered sin and death. Jesus certainly confronted human ignorance, rejection, and closed minds. Yet He never allowed them to drain His heart of love, compassion, forgiveness, or divine wisdom. How long can we survive without such a loving God? Without Him survival turns into dreadful, bleak existence. In the midst of all that could go wrong He was crucified. Nothing went wrong on His part, only on the part of persecutors and even His followers. Jesus rose and came to reinforce His love for His followers and all who would open their hearts to Him. He promised to remain with them always and sent His Holy Spirit be their wisdom, courage, gratitude, humility, and love. We cannot say the words of the sisters of Lazarus, “Lord if you have been here.” He is here, all we have to do is open our minds and hearts to Him. He is the one who forgives and inspires us to seek His forgiveness and share His forgiveness with one another. He is the one who loves no matter what the response. He is one who inspires and empowers us to rise far beyond all that drains life out of us and others. The last words of the second reading at Mass from St. Paul to the Romans (8:8-11) point far beyond all that drains life out of us to who brings us the fullness of life, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit dwelling in you.

I offer the Responsorial Psalm from the cycle A readings this Sunday for you prayerful reflection.

R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.