Jesus was deeply troubled at the death of his friend Lazarus. In that moment, we feel close to Jesus in our own sadnesses. However, Pope Francis reminded us that death is not a hindrance to God’s loving plan for us. Jesus gave words of hope to those facing the death of a loved one:
“Jesus says to Jairus: ‘Do not fear, only believe’ (Mk 5:36). Jesus knows that this man is tempted to react with anger and despair, because [his daughter] has died, and He recommends that Jairus safeguard the little flame that burns in his heart: faith. ‘Do not fear, just have faith; do not fear, just continue to keep that flame burning!’ Jesus awakens the girl from death and gives her back to her loved ones, alive.
“He counters Martha’s weeping at the loss of her brother Lazarus: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ (Jn 11:25-26). That is what Jesus repeats to each one of us, each time that death comes to shred the fabric of life and of our loved ones. Our entire existence is at stake here, between the gradient of faith and the precipice of fear. Jesus says: ‘I am not death; I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this? Do you believe this?’ We who are here today … do we believe this?
“We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death. However, what a grace if at that moment we safeguard in our heart the little flame of faith! Jesus takes us by the hand, as he took Jairus’ daughter by the hand, and repeats once again: ‘Little girl, arise!’ (cf. Mk 5:41). He will say this to us, to each one of us: ‘Arise, rise again!’
“I invite you, now, to close your eyes and think about that moment: of our death. Each of us think about our own death, and imagine that moment that will come, when Jesus will take us by the hand and tell us: ‘Come, come with me, arise’ There, hope will end and reality will abide, the reality of life. Think hard: Jesus himself will come to each of us and take us by the hand, with his tenderness, his meekness, his love. Each one repeat Jesus’ words in your heart: ‘Arise, come. Arise, come. Arise, rise again!’” (October 18, 2017 General Audience)
Picture Ernesto Fontana [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons