Saturday, April 5, 2014
Homily: Sunday 4/6/2014 The weeping Jesus. What life are we living for?
The weeping Jesus.
Why does Jesus cry passionately in today's Gospel? Jn. 11:35 Jesus wept. It is the shortest verse of the entire Bible.
Jesus chooses to weep, just as He chooses to go back to Jerusalem. But also just as He chooses to wait 4 days. This seems like a peculiar choice, but the reason Our Lord gives is “that you [His disciples] may believe.” Just like in last week's story, the man was born blind “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
So Jesus chooses to let his friend die, so that he can model His own Resurrection, which this foreshadows. Remember, Jesus brings three people back to life in the scriptures: the 12-year old girl, the widow's son, and Lazarus. This is not the same as His Resurrection, because those people will die again. They have been given back their earthly “life” (Greek bios) and not any particular divine life (Grk. Zoe).
So if Jesus chose this, then why does He choose to weep? I think for two reasons. First, because God has pity on humanity. He hurts when we hurt, even if it is ultimately for our good. God sees us suffering and, because He is love, He hurts with us. This is proof that God is not some tyrant out to get us, but is moved by our pain, moved by His love for us.
The second reason is I think more important. Jesus weeps because he feels kind of distraught at our lack of faith in Him. Just like that woman in the well who wants “living water” only to satisfy her earthly needs so she can feel safe and secure; just like the Hebrews in the desert who would rather worship a golden calf than the God who is intimidating because they cannot control him, or would rather rot in Egypt than take the hard road to the Promised Land; just like those Israelites of Ezekiel's time who lament in Babylon that their lives are just dead, dry bones, so also the people closest to Jesus don't understand Him: they struggle to find the faith that overcomes death. Except for Martha and Mary, they give death a greater power than Christ.
Death is a kind of gift, a strange gift. God offers it to us as a remedy. It is part of a solution to the deep problem of our fallen world that needs to be re-made: our sinfulness that needs to be ripped out of our human nature. Death is required for this, because we cannot be reborn until we die. Death is something we all have to face. It scares us because it demands everything, all at once. Death symbolizes all the little sacrifices of this life and is greater than all those sacrifices combined. But is it the greatest power in this universe? No! Jesus is the “resurrection and the life” and from Him alone do we find a solid foundation. God swallows up death in victory, so that when it comes upon us and those we love, although it strips us bare of all our false comforts and even brings crashing down the false houses we build, we find ourselves in one piece, because the shepherd of our souls will never abandon us, and because He has made this journey Himself and makes it with us.
Jesus weeps because we focus more on bios than on zoe. We care more about earthly life than divine life, more about physical death than about the spiritual death that sin can cause in us. We so quickly forget that Christ is “the resurrection and the life.” We so often ignore heaven because life on earth can be horrible, as if the pain suffered in this short life makes the eternal happiness of the next to be nothing. I am certain that the saints themselves had to suffer pain; they had crosses; and they died - every one of them. I am also certain they were (and are) the happiest people to walk this earth, and they who lived every moment with heaven in their eyes also did the greatest good for their fellow man on this earth. Let us ask our Lord, who as already won the victory for us, for the courage to live for our heavenly life and not focus on our earthly life.