Thursday, April 3, 2014

"I am the resurrection and the life"

Sunday's pathos-filled Gospel story for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the raising of Lazarus, is the longest continuous narrative in John's Gospel outside of the passion account. It is also the climax of the "signs" of Jesus. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Jesus Wept

The shortest line in the whole bible is found in this Gospel story: "Jesus wept." Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says Jesus reveals to us God who is one with us in suffering, grief and death -- a God who weeps with us. Father Cusick explains that our Lord's tears - whether over the death of his beloved friend Lazarus or his own people who rejected Him - were of the ultimate and divine compassion. They bespoke His commitment to the Father's will to the end for our sake. At the cross, He poured out the ultimate gift for us, His own life-blood and broken body.

So did Jesus play favorite? Some find it hard to accept that God would love some people, like Lazarus for example, more than others. But God became man. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio argues that if Jesus did not love some more than others, He wouldn’t be fully human.

"I am the Resurrection and the Life"

This incident also gives Jesus the occasion to make that most extraordinary proclamation: "I am the Resurrection and the Life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

From this, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains, we understand that Jesus is the very source of all life and the very cause of resurrection. It means that all life comes from him and all life finds its true meaning in him. The raising of Lazarus from the grave, according to Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., is merely a preview of the definitive victory of life in the resurrection of Jesus. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. says it is a "sign" of God's promise to raise up all who have died in Christ to everlasting life. And college student Brett DeLaria shares that just as Lazarus was called from the grave, he says we should feel like Jesus is also calling all of us out of a spiritual “death.”

Victory Over Death and Darkness

This Sunday we stand before dry bones, the dead man's tomb. Fr. Phil Bloom says we are powerless to give life back. But through Jesus we can revive because He is the God of life and not of death. He came to do battle with death and vanquish it. James Gilhooley reminds us that Ezekiel this Sunday tells us this welcome message from God. "I will open your graves and have you rise..."

And so Jesus calls us, me and you, “Lazarus come out!” Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us that someone else has rolled away the stone for us. Jesus did this with the sacrificial love of the cross. But we still have to come out of the tomb ourselves. And many may ask how there can be an all-loving and an all-powerful God if there is so much suffering and evil in our world? Jesus replies that there are many beautiful plants and trees that come forth from God’s love. Life is surely one of them. But Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out that death is too, as well as suffering.

What we see in the Lazarus story will occur in the same way between Jesus and his Father. The Father does not save Jesus from death on the cross. Instead the Father allows him to die on the cross and then raises him up afterwards. Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI points out the lesson in both these deaths and raisings: The God we believe in doesn’t necessarily intervene and rescue us from suffering and death. Instead He redeems our suffering afterwards.

Jacqueline Kennedy, who unhappily for her was an authority on death, offered this insightful reflection, "The Catholic Church is at its best at the time of death. Its message is that death is not the putting out of light. It is rather turning off the lamp because the dawn has come."

What Makes a Saint a Saint?

With the the coming beatification of Pope John Paul II, many are wondering what precisely the Church means when it solemnly proclaims that someone is a blessed or a saint? Fr. Robert Barron says it means that the person in question exhibited in the course of his life virtue to a “heroic” degree.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas adds that saintly people like Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa were normal human beings with all the strengths and weaknesses that are part of the human condition. They made mistakes, they made errors in judgment, and they became frustrated and lost their temper at times. What is important is that they didn’t give up on God.

Catholic Thought & Spiritual Blindness

What are the criteria to authentic Catholic thought? Bevil Bramwell, OMI lists fifteen of them that point to and protect the Catholic communion of truth as it embodies and expresses the one truth of Jesus Christ. Judith Costello offers her own reflection that developed when she came across this phrase that seemed to shoot an arrow in her heart. “Be alone with the Alone.”

What sins lead to spiritual blindness? St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that the sins which directly cause spiritual blindness are all mortal sins pertaining to lust. Which brings us to a sad reality that exists in our Church today. We are all painfully aware that there are many Catholics today who are living in cohabitation. Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe offered an explanation of the pastoral care necessary for couples who are cohabiting.

Jennifer Fulwiler is sometimes challenged by her atheist readers when she mentions that Christianity has made her a better person. And she understand their confusion; if she's willing to try to be a good person now, why couldn’t she have done that when she was an atheist? What’s God got to do with it? The short answer is: Everything. She explains why.

Sermons, Fish Fries & a Friar in the Mall

How to enjoy Sunday sermons? There are two obstacles to the Sunday sermon. One is that we are unused to listening to anything delivered at any length by a single voice. We are accustomed to television. The second and biggest obstacle to the efficacy of the Sunday sermon is that the listener does not turn it into active worship. Christopher Howse offers some practical advice for daydreamers.

Now let's talk about the popular parish Friday Fish Fry. The main problem with these Lent seasonal fish fries is that they’re just too darn tasty to consider as a partial fast. And those second servings come in too easily and generously. However there's a bigger benefit to these events: the community built through it. If anything beats sitting down to eat a Lenten dinner with your parish brethren it must be putting on an apron and serving them.

Dominican Father Tony Wall is one fellow who says, "We are an absolutely passive church." He believes Catholics should spend more time living out their faith in the marketplace. That's why he spent every day, except Sunday, for a month in Portland's Lloyd Center Mall. He sold religious stuff, answered questions, preached to people. And he even heard Confessions along the way.

The Homeless, Soul Surfer & Your Highness

Should you give money to homeless people? Derek Thompson says the short answer is no. And the long answer is yes, but only if you work for an organization that can ensure the money is spent wisely. The more you give to beggars, the harder beggars will try. This leads to what economists call "rent exhaustion," which limits the net gain to beggars. If you are going to give, pick the poor person who is expecting it least.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why do we say the Rosary at Catholic funerals?
FEATURED BLOG: Pastoral Care of Couples Who are Cohabitating
PASTORAL HISPANA: Signo del Amor de Dios por la Humanidad

Post a comment below.
Follow us on Twitter
Click Here to receive a FREE SUBSCRIPTION to this weekly email

No comments:

Post a Comment