“If the spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies as well, through his spirit dwelling in you.”
“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
There it is. The kernel of our faith put into two sentences, 65 words.
The Spirit of God raises Jesus and dwells in us; the spirit who raised him up will give us life.
“Even if you die, you will live. For I am resurrection and life, says the Lord. 30 words.
“The Spirit of God raises Jesus who is resurrection and life for us.” 12 words.
“Resurrection and life.” 2 words.
How many times at funerals have we listened through tears to the gospel we just heard? We share the tears of Mary and Martha, and of Jesus himself—“and Jesus wept”—when we say farewell to our beloved dead, and in those tears, we confront our own mortality as well: the bleak fact, unavoidable, that death waits for us all. We weep for ourselves.
And Jesus wept. He wept for Lazarus, he wept for Martha and Mary, he wept for himself knowing that death was waiting for him on the horizon, a few days away in Jerusalem. He reached deep inside that grief, and summoned up the power of God’s Spirit in himself. He calls out into the dark tomb “Lazarus, Come out,” and the dead man, bound up in his shroud, stumbles out. “Unbind him, and let him go.”
“Unbind him, let him go.”
There, there it is: resurrection and life. “Unbind him, let him go.”
And when they took him down from the cross, they wrapped him in a cloth and laid him in a new tomb. And when the women came on the first day of the week, and the disciples, they saw the place where they had laid him, and the cloths, but him they did not see.
“The One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies as well, Through his spirit dwelling in you.”
There, there my sisters and brothers, is our hope. Jesus, son of God, Jesus Son of Man, Jesus Son of Mary passed through death’s dark door, and the father gave him life again in the Spirit. The Father gave him back to us, as resurrection and life. And he has poured his spirit out upon us, in creation, in our baptism, in these simple gifts we share that are transformed into his very body and blood by our powerful remembering in the Spirit.
Death remains, must remain for us a tragedy. The loss of those we love is a terrible thing, and our fear of what we cannot see is primal. It cannot be otherwise. Yet in the light of faith we share the dawning of the first day of the week, greater even than Good Friday’s darkness; in the light of hope we see, as Lazarus saw, light glimmering as they rolled away the stone.
“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even though they die, will live, everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Resurrection and Life.
Fr. Tom Lucas, S.J.