The promise of new life

Hope in the Resurrection is the theme of the bible readings this Sunday. In the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the Gospel narrative depicting the climactic culmination of our Lord’s public ministry before his Passion and death, Jesus reveals himself to Martha as the Resurrection and the Life.

A few years ago, I drove to Virginia to see loved ones. On the way home, I stopped in Baltimore to visit the Shrine of Saint Jude. It was not a sightseeing diversion, however. I had a prayer for the patron saint of desperate and lost causes.

While I was there, I prayed for a long while. Then I went down to the gift shop and bought a prayer card entitled “Don’t Quit.” The last line of the prayer is: “It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”

That was in late 2018, and I still have no clear answer to my prayer. First, things got better, then worse, then horrible, then better than I could have ever imagined, before seemingly dying completely. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.

Now I’m starting to see little signs here and there that it’s not over after all. Things are slowly getting better, but in a new way, like a rebirth. At least, I hope so.

I recently listened to a reflection by Father Eugene Chianain on the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In particular, he said that whatever you’re going through, whatever you’ve been asking God to do for you, whatever challenges you face in life, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up. You may think God doesn’t listen to you, but God knows what you’re going through, and He is going to call you out of the darkness of the tomb.

In the Gospel reading this Sunday, Martha and Mary send word to Jesus that their brother is gravely ill. Upon receiving the message, Jesus waits two days before travelling to Bethany. Arriving four days after Lazarus’s death, Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise again, and asks her if she believes this, to which Martha pronounces her remarkable confession of faith, which ranks alongside Peter’s.

Note that Martha’s faith does not depend upon her seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. Faith does not rely on proof, but precedes it.

We, like Martha, know all too well that God may delay, but we must have faith that He will not abandon us or deny us the promise of new life. No matter how dire things seem, we must not lose faith that He will make the darkness of our desperate situations recede at the right time and renew each of our lives.

A faithful Catholic from the Diocese of Montreal