The promise of Eternal Life

In today’s Gospel, Martha and Mary send an urgent message to Jesus saying that their brother Lazarus was very ill and they were afraid he would die.  They wanted Jesus to come and cure him. At that time, if you wanted to send someone a message, you had to send a person to deliver it. There were no cars or trains; there was no e-mail, no mobile phones – not even ordinary telephones or post! So sending a message took time. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. In those days, when a person died, his body was wrapped with cloths. Jesus was very sad that Lazarus had died and he cried. Martha and Mary believed that Jesus was the Messiah, though, and they believed that he could bring their brother back from the dead.

In Jesus’ conversation with Martha, Martha tells him that she believes in resurrection. Her response shows great faith, affirming her belief in eternal life and Jesus’ connection to this promised salvation.  In today’s Gospel, we will hear what Jesus taught about Resurrection, and we will hear about when Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead.  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he showed his power over death. We believe that by Jesus’ death and Resurrection, he conquered death and won eternal life for us. Our faith tells us that those who are like Martha and Mary—people who believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the life—will find eternal life.

Jesus’ promise of eternal life is a central element of our Catholic faith. Even though Easter is still two weeks away, our Gospel today invites us to acknowledge Jesus’ power over death, evidenced in the raising of Lazarus, and to anticipate Jesus’ conquering of death once and for all in his death and Resurrection. We sometimes use examples from nature to help describe this mystery of our faith. Jesus himself talked about the seed that dies when planted in the ground in order to produce new life (John 12:24). Using that image and others, we find hope and confidence in Jesus, the Resurrection and the life.