The Gospels give us several different accounts of Jesus raising people from the dead during his ministry on earth. In all these cases, Jesus restores a person to life who had fallen ill and died unexpectedly. He alleviates a family’s suffering, and gives them back something that they had lost. It is a wonderful miracle, that I think many of us wish we could experience in our own lives. And yet, these resurrection miracles that Jesus performed were only temporary. It was not a resurrection to eternal life, but merely a re-animation of the body, meaning that the person would eventually die again.
In all of the cases where Jesus raises someone from the dead, we see a community gathered around those who have suffered loss. This community gathers to mourn, and to share in the pain that those who have lost a loved one feel. It is powerful to see people united in this way in the midst of suffering. The miracle that Jesus performed, then, became a source of faith for those who were present: even if they initially mocked Jesus at first for claiming that he could raise the person from the dead!
In no one is this faith more evident than in Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who is raised in today’s Gospel account. Martha’s words to Jesus focus less on Lazarus’ bodily resurrection, and more on the resurrection on the last day. This prompts Jesus to make a very powerful statement: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” This eternal life that Jesus promises is different than our earthly life, for it is a life where we live in perfect union with God in His heavenly kingdom.
As Jesus is speaking to Martha, telling her that he is the resurrection and the life, he asks her “do you believe this?” He asks the same question of us. Do we believe that earthly death is not the end? Do we believe in eternal life? As we approach Easter, do we believe that our Saviour chose to suffer and die on the cross so that we could have eternal life with him in Heaven? Do we believe that Jesus can lead us through our sufferings, to a life that knows no end, where there is no more pain, tears, or sorrow? Throughout this week, I invite you to reflect on these questions, and ask the Lord to help you to strengthen your faith in the promised resurrection to eternal life.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB