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April 1981

I am the resurrection and the life. (Jn. 11, 25)

Jesus spoke these words when Lazarus died, and then he raised him from the dead.

Lazarus had two sisters called Martha and Mary. As soon as she knew that Jesus had arrived, Martha went out to meet him and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Jesus answered her: ‘Your brother will rise again.’ She said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’, but Jesus then declared: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, yet he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.’

I am the resurrection and the life.

When he uses the expression ‘I am...’, Jesus wants to tell us who he is to man. In this case he wants to tell us that he is the one who possesses the most precious gift which anyone can possibly desire: Life, the life which does not die.

If you read the gospel of St. John you will find that Jesus also said: ‘As the father has life in himself, so also he has granted the Son to have life in himself’. (Jn. 5, 26) Because Jesus has life, he is able to communicate it.

I am the resurrection and the life.

Martha too believed in the final resurrection: ‘I know that he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ That was what the Jews believed. However Jesus, with his marvellous affirmation: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ wanted to make clear to them that they need not await the future for the hope of resurrection from the dead. Already, at this very moment, he is for all believers, that eternal divine life which will never die, and which cannot be expressed in words.

If Jesus is in all believers, if he is in you, you will not die. This Life in the believer is of the same nature as that of the risen Jesus, and so is very different from the human condition of the believer.

This extraordinary Life, which already exists in you too, will be fully manifest at the last day, when, with your whole being, you will share in the future resurrection.

I am the resurrection and the life.

Certainly by these words Jesus did not deny the existence of physical death, but simply that this will not mean the loss of true life.

Death will remain for you, as for everyone, a unique, overwhelming and possibly frightening experience. But it will no longer mean a denial of existence; it will no longer be something absurd, the failure of life, your end. Death for you will no longer really he death.

I am the resurrection and the life.

When does this life that does not die begin in you? In your baptism. There, in spite of   your condition as a person who must die, you are given immortal life by Christ. In baptism you have in fact received the Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead.

The condition for receiving the sacrament is your faith which you have declared through your parents and godparents. While speaking to Martha during the raising of Lazarus, Jesus made clear that ‘He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.’

‘I believe’ - here is a fact of the utmost seriousness and importance implying that you must not only accept the truths announced by Jesus, but you must cling to them with your whole being.

To have this life, you must say your 'yes' to Christ. This means adhering to his words and commands: it means living them. Jesus has confirmed this: 'Whoever keeps my word will never see death.' (Jn. 8,5 1) Because the teaching of Jesus is summarised in the word ‘love’ St. John writes: 'We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.' (1 Jn. 3, 4)

I am the resurrection and the life.

So you cannot be unhappy. There is Life in you. But perhaps you might say to me: ‘Although I am baptised, I have not followed the words of Christ, I have not lived them. Indeed I have been opposed to his commands, and gravely so. How can I have within me the Life which does not die?’

Jesus has even thought of this and has left a remedy for us. If you desire it he personally wants to take you from this state which weighs on you and worries you, and he wants to free you from evil. He does this when you confess your sins.

Accept with the deepest gratitude the remedies which Jesus, who knows human fragility, has prepared for you. Gain life through them. Then from this very moment you will participate in the greatest grace ever offered to us by Christianity: resurrection and the Life which never ends.

Chiara Lubich

 

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