4/9/2017-LET US RUN INTO OUR FATHER'S LOVING EMBRACE
This past Sunday, our Father began to show us just how powerful, expansive and stunning is the victory of His Son, Jesus, over sin and death. Our Father offered us a wonderful opportunity in which our faith and belief in the resurrection of the dead and our own personal resurrection from the dead might be confirmed and grow. It is an exciting moment in the life of a Christian when he realizes that what he believes is meant to be lived! It was so fitting that the theme of all three readings last Sunday was the resurrection of the dead. In the teachings of St. Paul, if someone says that the dead will not rise, they are calling God a liar. Paul also goes so far as to say that if there is no resurrection of the dead, well then, our faith is in vain and we are the most to be pitied among all the people of the earth. Let us run into our Father’s loving embrace and let us sit in His lap as we listen to what He wants to tell us and show us about the resurrection of the dead.
EZEKIEL’S TESTIMONY AND EXPERIENCE Our Father first invited Ezekiel to share with us, His children, his own experience and testimony about this central theme of our faith. Ezekiel began by sharing with us what he heard from the living God. Ezekiel shared with enthusiasm: I heard the Lord proclaim that He will stand before our graves and He will have us rise from them. He also promised that He would pour His Spirit into us so that we might live! Our Father then asked Ezekiel: is that all? Did you see anything? Ezekiel with even more enthusiasm burst out and shared the vision the Lord granted him: Yes! I saw this field covered with old, dry bones! All of a sudden, I saw the living God speak a word of power and authority over those bones. He poured forth His Spirit and those bones came together and came to life! As Ezekiel gave way to Jesus, He encouraged us: trust in the Lord! He is Good and Faithful! I heard Him say: I have promised, and I will do it!
THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS Next, our Father invited us to draw near to His Son, Jesus, at Bethany. But, before we looked at what Jesus said and did, our Father wanted us to take a moment to recognize all that we could learn about His Son from this Gospel. Our Father turned to us as He asked: Do you see how loving and faithful my Son is? Do you see how you are never alone? Just like Martha and Mary, at any moment, at any place, you can turn to my Son and call upon His Holy Name! Do you see how my Son is not a cold, distant observer to your suffering and trials? My Son is deeply troubled when you suffer! Did any of you see the tears He shed for the death of His friend, Lazarus? Now, as we draw near to Jesus, let us observe what He said and did. We hear an amazing conversation between our Lord and Martha. Martha acknowledged that if Jesus had been present, Lazarus would not have died. Our Lord reassures her that her brother will rise. Martha professes her faith in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus clarifies: your brother will rise right now! Our Lord then proclaims: “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!” Do you believe this? Martha responds with such great faith to the presence and promise of Jesus! We then witness Jesus stand over the grave of Lazarus and pronounce a word of power and authority over his grave. The Spirit returns to the lifeless body of Lazarus, and rises from the dead! We just witnessed the initial fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel! This experience inspires us to an ever deeper faith and trust in Jesus and all that He has promised us!
ST. PAUL’S EXHORTATION The grace that our Father offered us last Sunday was so important! St. Paul wanted to make sure that as many of us as possible opened our hearts and desired to receive the gift of the Father. In Paul’s teaching, he helps us to understand that heaven and rising from the dead to glory is not something we can take for granted; it is not something that will happen by chance. St. Paul three times used an “if” clause. There are conditions: If the Spirit of God dwells within us; If Christ dwells within us; if the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells within us. Our Lord is asking us to make a transition from being passive during Holy Mass to actively responding to what He says to us and to what He shows us. Last Sunday’s celebration had all the light and power to cast out darkness and doubt from our hearts and minds. That light and power was offered to those who opened their hearts and eagerly sought to receive our Father’s gift!
EVERY HOLY MASS, WE ARE OFFERED THE SAME EXPERIENCE AS MARTHA AND MARY It is such a gift and blessing to be a Catholic Christian! All the dynamics of the Gospel are really and truly present and active in our midst! We are offered the very same encounter and experience that Martha and Mary had every time we gather in our Father’s house! Just like Martha and Mary, we experience Jesus speaking a word of power and authority, not over a grave, but over our bread and wine. The same Jesus who spoke and the dead man rose, speaks over our bread and wine and they truly become His Most Holy Body and Blood. The same joy that Martha and Mary experienced seeing their brother rise from the grave becomes ours when we respond with faith to the real and true presence of our loving Savior in the Eucharist! Jesus has promised us that we who eat His flesh and drink His blood will live forever! Do you believe this? Show the Lord that you do by living your life, by loving those He has placed in your life, by serving those who are a part of your life with the very same love that inspired Him to lay down His life for you on the Cross!
Have a blessed week and remember to pray for one another.