The readings and psalm are extraordinary. They deserve rereading at home followed by a period of meditation and contemplation. Confronting the question of death they leave us with a sense of consolation and a lessening of fear of death, one of the most significant characteristics that sets humans apart from all lower animals.
The first reading from Ezekiel begins with a promise:
"Thus says the Lord God:
I will open your graves
and have you rise from them."
The Jewish Study Bible comments on this passage: “Traditional Jewish scholars find in this passage, the idea of the resurrection of the dead before the day of judgment. This was a fundamental belief of rabbinic Judaism attributed to Moses.” Obviously the idea of the resurrection of the dead is not a new belief that emerged in Christianity.
Paul commented on the cost of sin and made an optimistic announcement in the second reading: "Although the body is dead because of sin; if Christ is in us the spirit is alive because of righteousness." What more could we want? What more could we hope for? The challenge is recognizing and acknowledging that we are sinners. However, as Paul emphasizes, we are sinners loved by God. That love is unending and unlimited.
Psalm 130, which reflects both readings, is known as the De profundis, the words that begin the psalm in Latin. It is one of the most beautiful and evocative hymns in the entire psalter. We call to the Lord out of the depths. We beseech the Lord out of the depths of sin in which we find ourselves again and again. We cry out to the Lord who hears our plea from the depths of despair. We call out to the Lord who forgives our sins.
The story of Lazarus tells us of being brought back to life in Christ through the forgiveness of sins until the final resurrection of the dead. Jesus, fully human, weeps at Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus, fully God commands Lazarus
to come forth from that tomb. This same Jesus, fully human, wept over Jerusalem. This same Jesus fully God and fully man weeps over us in the same way. In this Gospel Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth from the tomb. Jesus also told the son of the widow of Nain to rise from his stretcher. He had Jairus' daughter rise from her bed. In the same way He calls us to eternal life. In his commentary on this Gospel the late Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow pointed out the fundamental difference between Lazarus, the widow's son, Jairus' daughter, us, and Jesus. Unlike them, Jesus rose from the dead never to die again. For the rest there was a temporary reprieve or reanimation. They would die at some time in the future.
If Lazarus is us so is Martha. The same Martha who complained to Jesus about Mary now makes a profound act of faith, “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.” And then comes the climax of this narrative:
“I am the resurrection and life;
whoever believes in me will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me
will never die.”
It is not that our bodies will never die. It is not as if we, or someone we love, will be protected from pain or suffering. Jesus never promised physical immortality. Some of us will die through a process that may be quick and unnoticed. Some of us will die in a slow but easy passage from this life.
Others will die at the end of a prolonged period of pain, suffering, and decay.
Father Marrow notes that what Jesus is promising, “the eternal life which we possess here and now cannot and will not be interrupted even by death.”
We cry to the Lord out of the depths of our souls. The Lord answers with kindness and plenteous redemption. There is nothing more to desire.
Spring is in full force here. Went out last night with the camera at 9 PM until 11, shooting away. LIke Taipei, Ljubljana is one of the few places I feel perfectly safe wandering the streets alone at night with camera equipment. The promenade along the river was packed with people. Rare was the free table in the cafes lining both sides. The average age had to be below thirty. I was reminded how young LJ is. The University of Ljubljana with about 63,000 students is one of the largest in Europe. They were all over the place.
I enjoy nighttime photography. It takes a steady hand and the willingness to have a lot of failures for every keeper. Most of the shots need some post-processing to correct color and a few other factors. but it is worth it.
The Franciscan Church and surrounding areas reflecting in the river. We've not had much rain of late so the river is a tad low. It was very calm last night with no wind causing ripples.
Looking across the river at one of the many cafes with extensive seating areas. The Castle is up above. The orange glow is due to the sub-table heaters. It was pleasant last night but probably a bit chilly to sit outdoors drinking cold beer.
Looking downriver toward our community. The Plečnikov designed colonnade is a landmark in LJ. It is at the market place and almost adjacent to the cathedral.
Looking in the opposite direction. The arc of lights is the triple bridges that lead to the Franciscan Church.
A group of people at the colonnade reflected in the water.
An outdoor gelato stand. I've tried their stuff. It is very good.
I remain fascinated by glass, especially after it has been used.
A shop near the river with tourist tchotchkes. Plečnikov tea. That was a little amusing.
The gazebo in Congress Square (Kongresni Trg).
Abstraction taken by moving the camera rapidly in an upward direction for 0.8 seconds, an eternity in photography time. The subject was plastic rectangles lit from behind while hanging from the ceiling.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD