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Notes from Fr. Vitalis

Whoever Believes In Me Will Never Die.


Dear Parishioners,

Last Sunday we encountered the healing of blind man and how Jesus is the one who brings light. Today, the gospel tells us of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. But much more, the divine gift of restoring life, which he possesses and is sharing that with us. Jesus teaches us important lessons, beginning with the value of friendship, human feelings, and solidarity in our struggles, especially when we are in pain or sorrow. But most of all, he offers us this awesome gift of life.

Jesus knew that his friend was dying, and he deliberately puts off his trip to Bethany until Lazarus has been dead four days. It offered Jesus the opportunity to reveal God’s glory and what he has destined for us. We see in Jesus two strong emotions: the feeling of using his divine power to restore life and the solidarity with human beings, especially at the time of pain and sorrow. Jesus displays great deal of affection to his friends and was not ashamed to shed tears because God did not want death for us. God made us to know him, love him, serve him, and share in the joys of his everlasting life.

Death is an albatross; it is not part of God’s plan for humanity. Unfortunately, the fall of Adam and Eve opened the door for death. Jesus has come to close that door and restore humanity to God’s original plan. Raising Lazarus in a way tipped Jesus’ hand for us to have a glimpse of what the future holds for us. However, the resurrection of Lazarus will not fulfill the promise given to Martha: “Whoever believes in me … will never die.”

This promise of Jesus points to that imperishable life which he promised those who believe in him. The fact that he had power to raise someone who was already in the state of decomposition further demonstrates his divine attributes. This unique act also prefigures and announces Jesus’ own resurrection. He wanted everyone to believe in him and to see that His Father could not deny his request. He showed the people his mastery over death. No one in the history of humanity has ever done that. Death has been an ancient plague on humanity. Death can no longer hold humanity hostage. Jesus has provided us with the antidote to death.

Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Ezekiel the Prophet that promises that God will open the tombs of his people. “Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” People will come to recognize the Lord by experiencing his mastery over death. It is in this sense that Jesus prays to his Father. He wants the resurrection of Lazarus to spark our faith. Ezekiel’s prophecy goes on to say that the Spirit of the Lord will revivify his people and restore them to their true home.

Keep in mind, death will not be the last statement of our lives. God’s spirit lives in us; for Jesus made it possible when we became his sons and daughters through the waters of baptism. He died for us that you and I may live forever. Death indeed has no power over us. To God be glory!

Grace and Peace,

Fr. Vitalis Anyanike