Risen to a new life
The Gospel of John chapter 11 is about the “Raising of Lazarus”. It is a story of sadness and frustration when people are faced with the death of a loved one; but it is also a story of hope and trust in God when one experiences tragedy.
When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Martha went out to meet Him; she poured out her heart to Jesus, saying: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (Jn11:21) Martha expressed her sadness and frustration at the death of her brother Lazarus. And yet, she had a glimmer of hope in her heart as she quickly added: “Even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” (Jn11:22) Martha found consolation in the presence of Jesus. At least, Jesus is present; nothing more can go wrong.
Jesus said to Martha: “Your brother will rise.” (Jn11:23) Martha thought that Jesus was merely offering words of consolation and that He was talking about the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. The resurrection of the dead is a Church doctrine that brings consolation to those who mourn for their deceased loved ones. It brings the hope that people will once again be reunited with their loved ones. But Jesus came to Bethany for a purpose; He came to show the glory of God, and that He, the Son of God, may be glorified through the miracle which He was about to perform. Jesus said to Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn11:25-26) Martha responded in faith: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” (Jn11:27)
When something bad happens, there is a human tendency to quickly vent our anger, sadness and frustration at God. But in difficult times, God offers us the chance to deepen our faith by challenging us to trust in Him in a way that we have never trusted Him before. In John’s Gospel, Jesus engaged in conversation with people, and the end result was that these persons had a life-changing experience: the Samaritan woman (John 4), the man born blind (John 9) and Martha (John 11). Although each one had a different level of faith to begin with, they all ended up professing faith in Christ: He is the Savior of the world, the Son of Man and the Son of God.
Right now, each one of us may be on different levels of faith – some have just begun their faith journey; others already have a deep relationship with God; and there are so many more in between. To grow in faith means to love and trust God more and more. Jesus calls each one of us to have new life in Him, and it begins with having a life-changing conversation with Christ. This new kind of life does not guarantee that we will get the things we want, or that things will happen in the way we expect. Rather, it is a kind of life that gives us the grace to keep trusting in God. It gives us hope to overcome disappointment and misfortune in life. In the story of the “Raising of Lazarus”, it was Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead, but it was Martha who, among others, was raised to a new life.