With the simple phrase “I am,” we hear God’s identity proclaimed throughout the Scriptures. Think about how often we have read that phrase in the Bible or as the Word of God has been proclaimed.
As we make our way toward Holy Week and Easter, God is identified as the source of life and resurrection on this particular weekend. These are very familiar stories, which could mean we don’t listen to them well. I encourage each of us to hear these words anew. Take time this week to meditate and allow God to be with you as the source of resurrection and life.
St. Paul reminds us that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is present in everyone who claims Christ as our savior. I will ask you the same questions that Jesus asked Martha as she recalled her brother’s death:
Do you believe that the promise of God given in the Scriptures is meant for you? Do you believe that this promise will be fulfilled? Can you experience some freedom in your present life because of this promise God gave you?
Instead of feeling hopeless or cynical about your circumstances, life, family or the world, can you allow God’s promise to permeate your choice about whether to be hopeful or cynical? Like Martha and Mary, you stand before the grave of all the losses, pain, deaths and separations that are parts of your life. Instead of pretending they are finished or that there is no pain or misery attached to them, could we possibly bring those losses to Jesus just as Martha and Mary did?
Martha’s declaration that her brother would not have died had Jesus been there is a lesson in how to pray during our own pain and misery. Some of us are embarrassed to bring to Jesus our questions of faith or our doubt in the promise. We somehow believe that Jesus will not know about these doubts, fears and losses if we pretend as if they don’t exist. This is a silly way to think, but we all fall into this temptation. What can break us out of being paralyzed in loss? What keeps us from taking that familiar road toward hopelessness and cynicism?
Let Jesus ask you the same question He asked Martha: “Do you believe that I am the son of God?”
Since we live in the post-resurrection era, we can ask ourselves: Do you believe that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise you up from your grave? Don’t be ashamed to offer your hopelessness to Jesus, and certainly take the time to listen to His response to you.
Jesus loves us everlastingly and will continue to be faithful to us — even when we are not faithful to Him. Jesus will accompany us, even when it seems like we are all alone. Jesus was faithful to His disciples after they betrayed and abandoned Him, and He is faithful to us. He has us in the palm of His hand, and He will bring us home.
Each moment is a new beginning, and each day offers a new opportunity to walk in the light instead of the darkness and to choose hope instead of cynicism. We’re nearing the end of Lent, but our opportunities for grace and life continue to be fully present and available to each of us. Choose life and not death!