Jesus, Lord of Life
Sunday Homily for march 9, 2008
Fifth Sunday in Lent (A)
From Father Joseph Pellegrino
This week, I would like to offer a poetic meditation.
It wasn’t in God’s plan. He never intended it to take place. It resulted from the masterpiece of His creation choosing it. "Through the sins of one man death has come into the world, through the obedience of another life has come."
Why? Because mankind, and the word Adam means mankind, decided that his intimate union with God was not as important as his desire for power. He would rather not have such a close union if it meant relegating every other aspect of creation as secondary to his relationship with God. Mankind pushed aside life and chose that which is not life, death.
It was God’s plan to give mankind the ability to choose. It was never God’s plan for mankind to chose so poorly.
Death and the forces of evil, the forces of death, had won. Or had they?
"Come quickly Lord, Lazarus is dying." Lazarus had become a close friend of the Lord. So also, his sisters, Martha and Mary. Now, you would think that Jesus would run to their home in Bethany. Instead he waited. He waited because he knew that he could use Lazarus to provide a sign of life conquering death. He waited because he knew that the forces of evil would begin their plan to kill him if he were publically seen in this village just outside of Jerusalem. "Let’s go with him," Thomas said, "so we can die with him." Brave words from the apostle who was far more than a doubter.
And Jesus wept. Yes, He cries with all who are mourning the loss of a loved one.
But Jesus doesn’t just weep. As a sign that life conquers death, he calls, "Lazarus come out."
Lazarus does not rise from the tomb like Jesus would rise from the dead as we will celebrate on Easter Sunday two weeks from today. Someone else rolls back the stone for Lazarus. He still wears the burial cloths. He did not have a glorified body as the Lord would have. Nor was his leaving the tomb permanent. Lazarus would eventually die again.
Lazarus was not the point. Jesus is the Lord of Life. That is what this is about.
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Corinthians 15:55.
People die. A lot of people die. Everyone dies. Old people die, young people die. Children die.
This isn’t right. It was not meant to be. It isn’t. Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life. Death does not control him, nor does it control those who are his. Yes, physical lives still come to an end, but life continues for those who live in
And Jesus told Martha, "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."
Our loved ones who have embraced the life of Jesus and who have ended the physical expression of their lives have begun purely spiritual lives.
Jesus Christ has conquered death. He calls us out of the tomb of a dead world to join him in life.
Our choices must be those that lead to and nurture life. We have to abandon the empty promises of materialism. We have to renounce the brief thrills of sin. We have to listen to the summons to come out of the tombs we have constructed for ourselves and come into the light and life of the Lord.
The long gospel account of the raising of Lazarus prepares us for the Easter celebration by reminding us that we have been summoned to join the Lord of Life in his conquest of death.
"Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life." John 5:24