Readings (Year A):
Ezekiel 37:12 – 14
Psalms 130:1 – 2, 3 – 4, 5 – 6, 7 – 8
Romans 8:8 – 11
John 11:1 – 45
Reflection: Live into the mystery
One afternoon we were driving past a cemetery and my preschooler exclaimed, ‘Look at the field. We can play there.’ The field looked expansive, with flower arrangements scattered everywhere. With my husband in the passenger seat next to me, I glanced at him and then turned toward my child to try to explain that it was not quite the field he imagined it to be. The cemetery, I explained, is a place of eternal rest. One where we bury our loved ones once they have left their earthly bodies. We then quickly recalled some relatives who died in the last year to jog his memory about who we have lost.
We have gone to funerals and attended a wake with him but never visited a cemetery afterwards. Culturally, as a Filipina American, if my relatives were buried near us I would probably make the attempt to visit on birthdays, important anniversaries, and perhaps just because. We talk about what happens when a body dies but conceptualizing it as a young child is probably beyond meaning. And let’s face it: even as a grownup thinking about something as grand and beautiful as the resurrection could open up your mind as well.
Yet that’s what is striking about today’s readings. We take a trip through the first reading in Ezekiel and see the graves opening and the physical act of the dead rising from them. In Romans we see the reference to the Spirit dwelling within us, who raised Jesus from the dead. We see the raising of Lazarus in the gospel. We are hearing reminders of opportunities to believe in Jesus as opportunities to live.
We believe that, as with Lazarus, death isn’t the end. Because we are a people rooted in God’s love at the end of our earthly life we return to God. We know we are called to new life. We hear Jesus say in the gospel: “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.” This belief is often what gets us through a season of grieving. It gets us through the moments when we wonder what is next. We know and we believe in the resurrection.
As we continued home that afternoon with the cemetery in our rearview mirror, the questions about death continued from the car seat in the back. “What happens when you dig up the dirt?” and “How do you become bones?” Wonder leaves my child guessing about what’s to become of a body, and what’s to become of life eternal when we leave our earthly bodies. Maybe we also wonder, as adults, about what’s to come and what it means to live into the fullness of life.
In the meantime, with our feet firmly planted and our eyes set on Easter, maybe we can begin to live into the mystery.