From Father's Desk

Dear Parish Family,

Over the course of these past three weeks, we have met people in various forms of darkness: the woman at the well in the darkness of sin; the man born blind in natural darkness; now we find Lazarus in the ultimate darkness of death. Last week we heard Jesus say, “I am the light of the world.” Today, Jesus announces, “I am the resurrection and the life.” And to prove this proclamation, He raises Lazarus from the dead..

Jesus and the disciples are friends of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. They dined together, and perhaps more than once the band of followers passed the night in their home. A deep sense of the Messiah and his mission touched the lives of these siblings. Today, we find Jesus and his disciples journeying to the sisters to accompany them at the passing of Lazarus. At the outset, Jesus says “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God” (Jn 11:4). Similarly, Jesus taught his disciples that the man was born blind not because of sin but,  “So that the works of God might be made visible through him” (Jn 9:3). While blindness and death are great tragedies, with the eyes of faith we can see how they can also be great opportunities for God to reveal himself in the Son of Man.

When I think of these siblings, immediately funerals come to mind. This is a popular reading at funerals, since it reminds us that despite the loss, death does not win. Death does not have the last word; love wins.

FreshEyes wk5A big part of our parish life together is journeying with loved ones as they care for the sick and suffering, and ultimately as many say goodbye to family and friends. Caring for the sick, visiting the homebound, burying the dead, and caring for the loved ones who remain, make up a hefty chunk of our collective time, energy, and compassion. Sometimes I wish there were more Baptisms, Weddings, and First Communions - more joyous occasions - to balance out those of illness, sadness, and loss. We have begun a search for someone to help coordinate that deeply important pastoral aspect of our mission. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to get more involved in the coming weeks.

On a personal level, grief has touched my family deeply this year. We sent Gram home to God with our love and prayers. Her passing has left a hole. Especially my parents, who cared for her at home for five years, have been left to sort out the pieces, and move towards a new beginning. Gram’s loss tore a hole in our familial fabric. Despite her long illness and slow decline, despite all the warnings that her life was coming to end, we can only now, after her passing, begin to work through our own darkness, and seek the light of a life post-Gram.

So, I imagine myself with Lazarus in the tomb, hearing the clarion call of Christ: “Come out!” And I imagine myself moving towards the entrance of the tomb, and hearing him say to my friends, “Untie him and let him go.” Death is not only a tomb experience for those who die, but also for those who find themselves in the space left behind after our loved ones’ passing. More for us those words, “I am the resurrection and the life” need to find a true echo in our hearts. Notice how Jesus does not ask Lazarus if he believed. No, he questions Martha and Mary - the loved ones left behind - and really it is for those who remain alive that Lazarus is raised. Sure, Lazarus is grateful for another day. But the witness of this power over death carries down through the centuries to us today. It resonates in our hearts as it did in those who saw the great sign.

Lord, give us eyes to see beyond the grave!

Yours in Christ the Resurrection and the Life,
Fr. Joel Wilson