The most tragic event in our life will always be the death of a loved one, unless we are too selfish to care or too absorbed in our addictions. The death of your child, of your spouse, of your father or mother will be the most difficult even if you have a deep faith in the Resurrection, and deep hope in life after death. It is always a temptation to rebel against God and to doubt his love and his existence.
Today, on the 5th Sunday of Lent, we see Jesus weeping and being deeply troubled at the death of his special friend Lazarus. It shows how Jesus is truly human. And yet truly divine because he did bring him back to life. But Jesus was so human that he needed special friends like any of us. Even a living saint like Msgr. Esseff had a special friend, a priest of his diocese who was ordained with him, if my memory is exact. He would enjoy his company regularly, just for the joy of it, not for work. The special friends of Jesus were the two sisters, Martha and Mary, and their brother, Lazarus. Jesus would often stop over their house for meal, probably each time that he would go to the Temple. When Jesus received the request to go quickly to heal Lazarus before he dies, Jesus still delayed intentionally, for two more days. By the time gets from Galilee to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for 4 days. I know a young woman who was still crying for Jesus to reanimate her three-year-old boy even during the funeral liturgy. Remember the death of a loved one, how you wished that God reversed the effect of death, or how you got angry at death, and wept, and were deeply troubled. Jesus, true man and true God, felt like that. This is a summit of the incarnation. Jesus, so human, that he is angry at death. When my beloved grandma died, I was really angry at death, even at God and I stopped going to church for almost three years. Did you? Would you?
But when my father died, I was ready, and in a way, full of the peace that only God can give. And that is what God can offer you. Ask for the grace to believe that your beloved one, even if you aborted him/her, is one with Christ who is one with the Father. To give you this grace, to free you from the fear of death, your own death and the possible death of your beloved ones, Jesus Christ had to cry out loud at the tomb: “Lazarus, come out!”. The same voice that created the Universe “Let there be light” is saying to you “Come out of your fear. Come out of your death-dealing sins. God’s glory doesn’t consist in the death of anyone, but that we may be born to eternal life.”
Is reanimation of the dead still happening? Yes, Msgr. Esseff mentioned a lay Catholic who did it many times (I believe his name is Neil Velez). But what is more important than reanimation is Resurrection to eternal life. Reanimation merely prolongs our life, while Resurrection gives us access to a life that never ends.
Indeed, death is only a transitional stage
to the fullness of life in Christ.
God bless you! Fr. Pierre