Our Cycle A readings share the resuscitation of Lazurus from the dead this weekend. We use the A readings because we have RCIA candidates and catechumens preparing for baptism and profession of the Catholic faith. Four are becoming Christians for the first time, while 6 are already baptized and now desire full communion with the Catholic Church. What a great grace. I hope all of you can come to our Easter Vigil this year on April 7th.
Jesus reveals both His human nature and His Divine nature in this scene with Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazurus, who has died. In his humanity it is said that after seeing Mary weeping along with their friends, Jesus became “perturbed and deeply troubled”. They pointed him to the tomb. “And Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Jesus experienced loss and emotions like us. Grief is normal in the face of loss.
This past week I concelebrated a funeral in Ellensburg for my friend Gary Dier. He was a Secular Carmelite and devout Catholic. He was also a paraplegic because of an accident while ‘breaking’ wild horses. He was broken in body and confined to a wheel chair for most of his life. But his spirit was not broken. He was not only faithful to Mass, but also helped start and maintain Eucharistic adoration at his parish, St. Andrew’s.
Gary was also a Marine before his accident. At the graveside they did what is called a Marine Corps roll-call. An officer calls the names of the Marines present and they responded, shouting “Here, sir, here!” “Lieutenant Wilson!” “Here, sir, here” a young honor guard shouted. “Private Strom!” “Here, sir, here!” Strom returned. “Captain Dier!” No answer but silence. “Captain Dier!” the officer shouted again. No answer but the frigid wind blowing across Holy Cross Cemetary on a bluff overlooking Ellensburg.
My friend Gary could no longer respond with his body. His son Luke, an Army officer, standing at attention on the other end of the casket, shook with tears, unable to take his dad’s place in roll call, though he bore the same name tag on his uniform. And Jesus wept.
Fortunately, the grave is not our final resting place. Even our bodies will rise again to a new heaven and a new earth. Death is not the final word. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the Word made flesh, crucified and now risen, is the final Word. His power and grace cause this mortal flesh, which easily wilts in the noonday sun and fades in the evening of life, to resurrect like a new-born babe. Jesus says, “Lazurus”, “humanity”, “children of the Father united in the Holy Spirit”, “come out!” And we will be able to answer to our names, “Here, Lord, here!”
Human Life at ConceptionCheck out this beautiful video of life developing in the womb from conception.
You formed my inmost being;You knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me;
Wonderful are your works!
My very self you knew;
My bones were not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
Fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions;
In your book all are written down;
My days were shaped, before one came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
PRAY FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOMOur Bishops of the United States have asked our prayers for religious freedom. In a statement made March 14th (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/march-14-statement-on-religious-freedom-and-hhs-mandate.cfm), the Bishops have expressed their concern over a pending law that would force Catholics to participate in intrinsic evil, inclusive of abortion causing contraception.
As you know, ‘contraception’ is a deceptive word. Most ‘contraceptives’ include the ability, in case conception is achieved, of preventing the already fertilized egg, 3 to 4 days old, which has all the genetic makeup intact and is dividing rapidly, from implanting in the uterus lining. This is, in fact, an abortion. That is why they are called abortifacients.
More importantly, the Bishops point out, this is not a question about contraception, sterilization, or even abortion, it is primarily about religious freedom. Can the state, the United States Government, force employers, regardless of their religious persuasion, to go against their seriously held beliefs. The government regularly provides for protection of conscience in other circumstances, why not now? Below you will find a prayer for our government:
O God Our Creator,
From your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ. Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome— for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.