From Catholic daily reflections…
READINGS OF THE DAY
First reading from the Book of Ezekiel
Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.
Second reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit dwelling in you.
GOSPEL OF THE DAY
From the Gospel according to John
Jn 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
+Let us go back to Judea.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
Your brother will rise.”
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“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.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
WORDS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey Jesus’ command by coming out into the light, into life; when the mask falls from our face — we are frequently masked by sin, the mask must fall off! — and we find again the courage of our original face, created in the image and likeness of God. (Angelus, 6 april 2014)
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” John 11:16
What a great line! The context is important to understand. Thomas said this after Jesus told His Apostles that He was going up to Jerusalem because Lazarus, His friend, was ill and close to death. In fact, as the story unfolds, Lazarus actually did die before Jesus arrived at his house. Of course, we know the end of the story that Lazarus was raised up by Jesus. But the Apostles tried to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem because they knew there were many who had been quite hostile toward Him and wanted to kill Him. But Jesus decided to go anyway. It was in this context that St. Thomas said to the others, “Let us also go and die with him.” Again, what a great line!
It’s a great line because Thomas appeared to say this with a certain resolve to accept whatever was waiting for them in Jerusalem. He appeared to know that Jesus was going to be met with resistance and persecution. And he also appeared to be ready to face that persecution and death with Jesus.
Of course Thomas is well known to be the doubter. After Jesus’ death and Resurrection he refused to accept that the other Apostles actually saw Jesus. But even though he is well known for his act of doubting, we should not miss the courage and resolve he had in that moment. At that moment, he was willing to go with Jesus to face His persecution and death. And he was even willing to face death himself. Even though he ultimately fled when Jesus was arrested, it’s believed that he eventually went as a missionary to India where he did ultimately suffer martyrdom.
This passage should help us to reflect upon our own willingness to go forth with Jesus to face any persecution that may await us. Being a Christian requires courage. We will be different than others. We will not fit in with the culture around us. And when we refuse to conform to the day and age we live in, we will most likely suffer some form of persecution as a result. Are you ready for that? Are you willing to endure this?
We also must learn from St. Thomas that, even if we do fail, we can start again. Thomas was willing, but then he fled at the sight of persecution. He ended up doubting, but in the end he courageously lived out his conviction to go and die with Jesus. It’s not so much how many times we fail; rather, it’s how we finish the race.
Reflect, today, upon the resolve in the heart of St. Thomas and use it as a meditation upon your own resolve. Do not worry if you fail in this resolve, you can always get up and try again. Reflect also upon the final resolution St. Thomas made when he did die a martyr. Make the choice to follow his example and you, too, will be counted among the saints of Heaven.
Lord, I desire to follow You wherever You lead. Give me a firm resolve to walk in Your ways and to imitate the courage of St. Thomas. When I fail, help me to get back up and resolve again. I love You, dear Lord, help me to love You with my life. Jesus, I trust in You.