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March 1999

I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)

Jesus said these words on the occasion of the death of Lazarus at Bethany, whom he raised from the dead on the fourth day.

Lazarus had two sisters, Martha and Mary. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she immedi-ately ran to meet him and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." "Your broth-er will rise again," Jesus answered. She replied, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Then Jesus declared, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."

I am the resurrection and the life.

Jesus wants to make clear who he is for the human race. He possesses the most precious thing that any-one could want: it is Life, the Life that will never die.
If you have read John's Gospel, you will certainly have noticed that Jesus also said, "Just as the Father has life in himself, so has he granted to the Son also to have life in himself." (John 5:26), and since Jesus has Life, he can give it to others.

I am the resurrection and the life.

Martha too believed in the 'resurrection on the last day'. But with his wonderful affirmation, 'I am the resurrection and the life,' Jesus showed her that she did not have to wait for the future to hope for the resurrection of the dead. Right now, in the present moment, for all those who believe in him, Jesus is already Life - the divine, ineffable, eternal Life that will never die.

If Jesus is in those who believe, if he is in you, you will not die. The Life that is in all who believe is the same kind of life as that of the risen Jesus and so is quite different from the ordinary human condition.

The extraordinary Life, which is already in you, will be revealed fully on the last day, when your whole being will share in the resurrection that is to come.

I am the resurrection and the life.

Of course Jesus does not deny the existence of physical death, but says rather that our physical death will not mean the loss of true Life. For all of us, death will still be an experience that is unique, intense, and per-haps even feared. But it will never again mean that existence is pointless. Death will not be absurd anymore, the failure of life, the end of you. Death, for you, will no longer be really a death.

I am the resurrection and the life.

When did this Life that will never die begin in you'? At baptism. Then, even though you were a human being destined to die, you received immortal Life from Christ. At baptism, in fact, you received the Holy Spirit who is the One who raised Jesus from the dead.

The condition for receiving this sacrament is your faith, which you perhaps expressed through your godparents. In fact, on the occasion of Lazarus' resurrection, Jesus, as he spoke to Martha, spelt it out: "Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live ... Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

In this context 'believing' is something very serious and important. It does not mean simply accepting the truths Jesus proclaimed; it means adhering to them with your whole being.

In order to have this Life, therefore, you must, say your 'yes' to Christ. This means adherence to his words, to his commands - living according to them. Jesus promised, "whoever keeps my words will never see death" (John 8:51), and the teachings of Christ are summed up in love.

So you cannot but be happy: you have Life in you!

I am the resurrection and the life.

During this time in which we prepare for the celebration of Easter, let us help one another to direct ourselves, again and again, towards the death of our selfish ego, so that Christ, the risen Lord, may live in us from this very moment.

Chiara Lubich

 

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