Then you shall know that I am the Lord, When I open your graves and have you rise from them, O, my people!”
If the Chosen People were hearing these words nearly a full 600 years before his appearance on this Earth, no wonder the Messiah was so desired and anticipated by the time he was actually born. No wonder Jesus’ words to his friend Martha—
“I am the Resurrection and the Life; Whoever believes in me will never die”
—have come down to our own day as the solemn hope of Christians and their repeated declaration as to the critical difference Jesus makes. In the long history of human beings on this Earth and their “Great Religions of the World” search for God, no one has ever claimed what Jesus claims much less actually carried it out!
As we approach our High Holy Days, Passion (Palm) Sunday and the days of Triduum, it is time to hear Jesus’ question to Martha,
DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?
More than once when today’s Gospel passage has been proclaimed at funerals and I ask people to imagine themselves being asked this question by Jesus, tears come to the eyes. After all there is my wife, my husband, grandma or grandpa, some dear loved one in the casket or the cremation urn—pretty dramatic moment to ask, “Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead?” For crying out loud, “Do you believe in your own resurrection?” More than once it has been the occasion for someone to seek out a confessional. Time to come back.
As a priest I know that the desire for hope in resurrection lies just below the skin. I am in good company with this belief and knowledge about people; it is the same reason St. Paul writes: “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 also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.” On those words an awful lot of people joined Paul and the other apostles and came to be called Christians—even for thousands at the requirement of their own martyrdom. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE—pretty powerful words, these!