Sunday, April 10, 2011
Four days ago, a distant relative, soon to turn 80 years old, passed away suddenly. She was at home, resting by herself. At one point, when she got up to make her way around the house, she took, what was to be, a most fatal fall and slipped into a coma. Life is like that sometimes, it catches you when you least expect it.
The hospital diagnosed multiple fractures on her skull and blood clots. Surgery was not viable as it would only provide a 20% chance of survival. The doctors would not risk it given her age. A second opinion was sought at another medical facility but the conclusion remained the same. There was simply no hope.
She passed away within 48 hours but thankfully with all close family members by her side. A question we often ask ourselves when confronted with such life threatening situations...if only Jesus had been there... Where is God when you need Him most? Little do we realize that as mere mortals, sometimes, it is difficult for us to understand the intent of God...
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8, NAB)
Today, begins the fifth week of Lent. We hear the familiar story of Lazarus, whom Jesus loved so much. Lazarus died. We get the impression that Jesus delayed the healing of Lazarus. If only Jesus had been there earlier...there would not have been so much grief, so much mourning.
Nevertheless, we learnt that Jesus, filled with compassion, wept because He too, loved Lazarus...Jesus loves each one of us...remains one with us in our suffering...in the suffering of our loved ones...puts an end to our tears...transforming tragedy into hope.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life! Jesus, bruised and wounded, laid down His life for us and He has the power to take it again...to give life. Four days later, Jesus raised Lazarus.
Jesus can work miracles...but for the greater purpose of giving glory to God and increasing our faith. As Jesus said to Martha and to each one of us this Lent,...'Do you believe this?'
“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?” (John 11:25-26, NAB)
This simple question reflects the very heart of our faith; our journey as pilgrims toward the eternal Kingdom of Heaven began at our baptism. We must constantly nourish and sustain this faith by listening to the Word of God daily.
It has been observed that people, the world over, often tend to celebrate two great occasions within the church calendar - Christmas and Good Friday - the churches seemed more packed than all the other days, even Easter Sunday!
Similarly, we too often tend to remember birthdays (Christmases) and deaths (Good Fridays) but not the hope of the resurrection (Easter Sunday). We diligently jot down reminders in our notebooks, IPhone or Blackberries. Nevertheless, simply and quietly, we neglect to remind ourselves that we carry the hope of the resurrection to all that we meet along this journey.
Is our journey through life marked only by birthdays and deaths? As pilgrims, should not our simple lives be inspired and driven by the hope and promise of the resurrection, instead...carrying and sharing this hope to others?
Let us reflect at the beginning of this fifth week of Lent, whether everything we do so far, everything we pursue, strive for, set aside for, love, enjoy...are all driven by the fear of losing someone, something...
All our actions on this journey through life seems to be focused on sustaining and improving the things of this world. My, nowadays, kids and youths even get their priorities heads over heels with the fanatism of Bielibers...
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25, NAB)
We must learn to live with the freedom given to us by God; as people of the resurrection. Ponder on this and pray that the Lord will begin to heal all of us, this transforming season of Lent, and turn all our fears into courage and hope. We now begin our last stretch of Lent towards Jerusalem...