2016 Nov. 13 33rd Sunday (year C)
ALL SOULS´ MASS @ 11:30 AM • Malaquías 3:19-20a • Salmo 97 • 2 Tesalonicenses 3:7-12 • Lucas 21:5-19 •
[__01__] Welcome to Our Lady of Lourdes Church, a spiritual home for many of you. And, welcome to our visitors who have come to West Orange for this commemoration of our faithful departed, our beloved deceased. In this month of November, we observe All Souls Day, and this is our All Souls Day Mass.
Is there joy ?
Is there sadness?
[__02__] Jesus asks this question and speaks carefully, deliberately to his disciples and touched about subjects of …
· Rising to new life
· Eternal life
In order to convey both the joy and the sadness to them, Jesus speaks with care to speak with the clear signal of courage and patience. And, he speaks with hope, to communicate our faith in life beyond the zip code (address) of this world. We are called to imitate this courage, patience, and faith.
[Young people] We are called to to teach our young people in a deliberate way and a careful way about death and eternal life in ways that they can begin to understand. We can help them to understand this by our own faith and hope and actions.
[__03__] In 2006, my grandmother died at the age of, we think … 96. We also were not sure what her birthday was all those years. So, at around age 96, on a December evening, my grandmother died around 10 pm after a short hospital stay at Westchester Square Hospital in the Bronx, on the other side of the Hudson River. Both my grandmother and grandfather lived a very long life. My grandfather was still alive at the time.
My father drove from New Jersey to the George Washington Bridge, to the hospital in the Bronx. And, what I recall is his sense of how important this journey was. And, that he never even alluded to the existence of traffic or delay. It seems that no one in my family has ever taken a trip on the Cross Bronx Expressway without a full post-mortem report of the traffic conditions between the G.W. Bridge and the Whitestone. This was an exception and exceptional.
This was different.
My father never mentioned the time it took, the distance, the traffic. He went there simply to be present and to inform my grandfather about my grandmother’s passing. There were other family members – my father has 2 brothers who live in the Bronx – who could have told my grandfather. My father could have gone the next day in daylight.
But, being there in person was important, to say the words and comfort his own father.
[__04__] Isn’t important when people are there in person for us… At a time that we lose to death someone we love, it may not be important what we say, but simply that we make contact. This may be in-person contact, it may also be a phone call, a note, a card.
Consider how much we treasure visits, calls, messages from those who know that we are grieving. Whether they are silent or speaking, whether they are laughing or crying, they speak our language with words of care and hope, as St. Paul writes “to weep those who weep and to laugh with those who laugh” (Romans 12:15)
[__05__] [ *** PAUSE *** ]
[__06__] In the Gospel of John, Jesus visits Lazarus who is buried in the tomb.
This is the miraculous raising, there is both joy (anticipation) and also sadness (mourning).
Martha and Mary are the sisters of Lazarus and they have many questions for Jesus, when he arrives. Martha and Mary want to know, from Jesus,
· What was your delay? Traffic?
· What took you so long?
· Why were you not here?
· You could have prevented this.
And, their belief that Jesus could have prevented this is their profession faith, their creed. They believe Jesus’ words:
“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.” (John 11:25)
Then, we see the faith of these witnesses – Martha and Mary – was both courageous and hopeful and accurate.
Jesus could have prevented this. Lazarus is raised from the tomb.
[__07__] This miracle, however, was not performed only for the restoration of Lazarus or for the satisfaction of Martha and Mary.
Raising Lazarus, our Savior teaches us that we all hope to rise again, at some time in the future.
And, there is both joy and sadness at the tomb of Lazarus.
Jesus himself demonstrates great emotion over this. We see in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, that Jesus weeps at the tomb of Lazarus.
In a sermon about this episode in the Gospel, Cardinal John Henry Newman asks why would Jesus weep. Did he not know what he was about to do?
[__08__] Why does Jesus weep and lament?
Newman suggests that he weeps, first, in the sorrow of vulnerability just as a mother or father would weep to see her child or his child defenseless against some difficulty, even if the difficulty is short-lived or temporary.
Newman suggests that this weeping – this lament – shows that Jesus shares our humanity completely, along this his divine power.
Newman suggests also that Jesus weeps, in anticipation, in joy.
Jesus weeps knowing that he could and would conquer death, although with great effort.
And, just as we might be overcome with emotion to deliver good news to someone in distress, Jesus is joyful for you and for me.
[__09__] He is joyful, not only at the time of resurrection for Lazarus and for all us on the last day, and he is joyful whenever we conquer the death of our sin, pride through confession and contrition. “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people with no need of repentance.” (Luke 15: 7)
Jesus rejoices whenever we die to ourselves, rise again, and turn to him.
He rejoices to wake us from our sleep, every day of our lives, and he will do this with carefully chosen words.
And, he is said to Martha with encouragement, “Your brother will rise.” (Matthew 11:23) [__fin__]