First Week of Lent 2008

Reflection for The First Week of Lent (Year A)…

Readings for
Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
9 March 2008

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 129
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

Death doesn’t have the last word…

A newspaper headline last Monday morning carried a chilling headline – 63 days, 63 deaths. The majority of those deaths since the beginning of the year were the result of fatal road accidents. Families, friends and neighbours throughout the country were shattered by their suddenness. Death in such circumstances causes desolation and devastation. Loved ones search for answers and wonder why they should be visited by such anguish and heartbreak. As they grapple with grief adequate answers are invariably hard to find.

Today’s Gospel offers some solace and comfort. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is Jesus’ last recorded miracle. His first miracle at the marriage feast of Cana preceded his public ministry of preaching, teaching and healing. This last miracle was the prelude to his death and resurrection. Unlike the families mourning the loss of their loved ones today, Lazarus was separated from his family at Bethany for only 4 days. How much rejoicing there would be in Ballygawley, Castletownbere, Kildare and countless other places this morning if those bereaved families could have their loved ones back with them, even if for only 5 minutes.

Nevertheless, in the midst of their grief stands Jesus who stood at the tomb of Lazarus and assures us that ‘If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die’. (John 11:26). Our faith in God convinces us that what He did for Lazarus He will do for us and even more. He gave back to Lazarus earthly life for a time. What He has prepared for us is heavenly life for eternity.

As we remember all those who have lost their lives and the families who agonise over their loss we pray they will take some comfort from the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’. (John 11:40). Our faith may not soften the sharp edge of the pain of loss in the immediate aftermath of death but it should help us to accept that death doesn’t have the last word. The glory of God awaits us all.

– Fr Peter McCawille SMA
Lagos, Nigeria