Monday, January 28, 2019

jesus and martha

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother Lazarus would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give You whatever you ask of Him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.   – John 11:21-25

This interaction between Jesus and Martha in the midst of her grief is a most human moment.  She has faith.  She has faith in Christ and she once again affirms that faith in Him.  Yet, she expresses disappointment in Him.  I spent a lifetime in pastoral service including over a thousand funerals, and this emotional encounter between Martha and Jesus rings true.  The belief system is in place but the human experience is not denied.

Martha believe in the resurrection but in a certain way.  But Christ adds to her understanding of her belief.  Resurrection is not merely something that awaits some distant, rather the resurrection is involved in this very moment.

I find significance that Christ did not define Himself succinctly as, “I am the resurrection.”  No, He chooses instead, “I am the resurrection AND the life.”  It is as if He with keen intention wanted to like those two ideas together as one.  In Christ, we might believe in the resurrection in the last day, yet we also humanly experience in this present day.

In the Benedictine monastic practice, each morning is seen as a new resurrection.  Each morning is an awakening of new life.  Each morning is a new beginning, the old has died and the new is born.  The Benedictine vision is that each day we begin again, only a little further on.  In this way the resurrection is not only an event but also a process.

When I was a child, an aunt sent me a plaque for my bedroom wall.  It was a picture of a little boy kneeling beside his bed praying that classic bedtime prayer.  “NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP, I PRAY THE LORD MY SOUL TO KEEP, AND IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKED, I PRAY THE LORD MY SOUL TO TAKE.”  Though many for good reason have felt the need to amend that prayer for caution not to either place the child in fear or blame God for a child’s death, I ironically have re-adopted this prayer as an old man.  As a child I never actually thought I wouldn’t make it through the night, but nowadays that possibility is increasing in its odds of happening.  But this prayer nowadays does not ring with fear, but rather with an experience of peace.  Each morning for me is a resurrection experience in which I gain a fresh start in life.

With Resurrection comes change.  In the last day when we transition from one form of life to the next, we are transformed not merely resuscitated.  And with our daily resurrection change ought to be active.  In Christ, each day we begin again, only a little further on.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz



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