- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily: July 29, 2015

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

17th Wednesday in Ordinary Time
Feast of Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus
1 John 4: 7 – 16; Ps 34; John 11: 19 – 27

When Jesus was informed of the illness of Lazarus by Mary and Martha, their message was, “Lord, he whom You love is ill.” But Jesus did not go immediately to His dear friends and when He did come, He found that Lazarus was in the tomb four days.

With that in mind, it is understandable that a grieving Martha greeted Him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Perhaps she tried to cover over her angry disappointment by adding, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Comforting her, Jesus assures her that her brother will rise and Martha is quick to profess her belief in Jesus’ prediction.

This interchange between a grieving sister and her Lord gives Jesus the opportunity to make a revelation about Himself. He might have said, “Yes, Martha, I will raise Lazarus up in the resurrection sometime in the future. Rather Jesus proclaims: “I am the resurrection and the life!”

None of us would attempt to say that I am Baptism because I have been baptized nor I am the Holy Eucharist because I have received the sacrament. These sacraments happen to us; they are not our identity. Whereas with Jesus, resurrection and life are not realities that happen to Him; they are His very person, His identity, His personal divine mystery.

The events of Salvation History lead us to the Lord Jesus and through Him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In other words, we do not worship theology, we do not adore dogmas or sacred events, rather we live and move and have our being in a most personal, unique relationship with the Lord. Without this relationship, dogmas, theology, rituals are mere words and pious ceremonies. He raises because He is Resurrection; He bestows life because He is Life and saves because He is Redemption!

Martha, in response to Jesus’ question “Do you believe this?” – replies, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that You are the Christ…” Her “I have come to believe” speaks to and of all of us. Belief is a journey, a coming from darkness to light to greater light to Eternal Light. We, too, have come to believe that Jesus is truly “The Resurrection and the Life” – but who of us at this very moment can say that we know all the implications, the height and depth of this mystery?

May the Lord continue to give us the grace to desire, to truly desire to know more profoundly what we have come to believe so to rejoice in our precious beliefs but more so to live them in our living relationship with our God.