God Will Carry Us Through

03-29-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

This week we again are witnessing to signs found in John’s Gospel about who Jesus really is. We know that signs often point to something more, or bigger, just like symbols do. In fact some people interchange the words sign and symbol. As we read about Jesus this year in our cycle of Lenten Gospel passages, we learn that he is clearly seen as the source of living water and the light of the world. Indeed this weekend he is also declared the resurrection and the life. All the meaningful signs given in John’s Gospel ultimately point to this last great sign. We know that there are very many other stories of people he raised from the dead, such as the soldier’s daughter and the only son of the widow of Naim. Note that John does not narrate these miracle stories; instead he gives a very long version of the raising of Lazarus. In listening to the story we may end up fascinated by Lazarus, but John strives to keep our attention on Jesus.

The Resurrection is always present in the Gospel narratives. The Gospels are the spoken work of earliest believing communities of the Resurrection. Remember that each Gospel was first proclaimed and passed on through the community’s oral tradition. Only much later were they written down. The Gospels tell many, many stories of persons who became whole and alive in Jesus’ presence.

In this passage, Jesus declares himself the resurrection and the life. He makes himself very clear that those who believe in him will come to possess life, even though they will physically die. Physical death is not the end nor is it final. The one who believes possesses life in Christ and lives with him now and will live with him forever. We learn that the person who is one with Christ in life will possess life beyond death. And then Jesus quite bluntly asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” The response of Martha as a sign for all of us echoes that of the believing community of then, through time, and also now. She speaks for us, confessing him as Lord, Messiah, and Son of God.

Our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel reminds us that there is nothing God cannot or will not do for the exiled people languishing in Babylon. They know that they brought exile upon themselves and are humiliated by the living conditions of their exile. What is most important in the reading is that despite the despair of the people, God’s actions will triumph and aid them. Indeed through his actions, they will know the promises of God as Ezekiel says, “You shall know that I am the Lord.”

In these most confusing and unstable times, we need to remember that we will know the power of God. He will carry us through. This means that for those who are living as best as they can our Catholic Way of Life, or who are searching for, or even have lost the Way, that God will surround us and help us all with his strength and his peace. The confusion and fear that are present at the moment on our national emergency can be stilled by placing our faith in our heart and essence. Christ has conquered death; surely he will assist us in our daily lives to live in peace, hope, and strength.

Fr. Brian