A few weeks ago, during a daily mass attended by some of our school children, I asked them what one favor they would want from God. There was the expected responses of “ice cream for all!” and “a million dollars!” Some thoughtful children wished for an end to hunger and world peace. But one little girl touched everyone’s heart when she said, “I would ask God for my daddy to come back to life.” Who doesn’t understand that yearning? Don’t we all long to see our beloved dead once again, to hold them in our arms, to tell them how much we love them. Today’s gospel touches on that oh-so-human yearning: Martha and Mary are distraught over the recent passing of their brother Lazarus. Even Jesus was “perturbed and deeply troubled,” moved to tears over the death of his friend. So He brought him back to life.
Wouldn’t we all love to have that power, to bring the dead back to life? We do. Not from the grave, but by giving life to the people about us, who live more dead than alive. The mother and father who grieve a lost child, the home bound who can never leave their house. The child, fearful to go to school because of bullying. The spouse in the midst of divorce. The homeless man or woman walking aimlessly through the street. All about us are people yearning to come back to life. We have been charged by Jesus to do just this: we can bring them back to life. Children, you can make your parent’s life worth all life’s sacrifices by simply saying, “Mom, Dad, You’re the greatest. Thanks for all you’ve done for me. I’ll love you forever.” Parents, telling your child how proud you are of them brings them to life. Forgiving a spouse of a sin. Feeding the hungry. Visiting a shut-in. A letter – not an email but a real letter! – to someone, a grandparent, you know would cherish it. I am so grateful for Visitation Parish which has already given so much life to the poor; last week, our parish made more than 450 Mercy Bags and the school contributed another 270! So much goodness. So much life. Especially during this Lenten time of death and resurrection, remember this: we have the power to bring the dead back to life. Give life.