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You Can't Turn God's Love Off


Funeral Homily Gospel - Jn. 11:17-27 or 11:21-27

Fr. Frank Pavone

Brothers and sisters, we are united with you in this moment of sorrow at the death of N.; and we find ourselves in Church now because the Church has something to say to us in this sorrow. Christ our Lord has something to say to us today; let us listen again to His words.

We just heard in the Gospel that Jesus went to a wake. His friend Lazarus had died and Jesus went to console Lazarus' sisters. Notice what Martha says to Him. "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Can you imagine saying that to someone who came to console you? "If you had been here, N. would not have died." We would never say that... unless the person we were speaking to had power over life and death. And in this case, Martha was right. Christ does have power over life and death. So she goes on to say to Him, "Whatever you ask of God, God will give you." She's giving Him a hint! "Raise him up, Lord! Bring my brother back from the dead!"

Christ tells her, "Your brother will rise." The Jews believed in a resurrection of the dead at the end of time, and Martha says that she believes this. We too, as Christians, proclaim that on the last day God will raise the dead.

Why is this true? Let's go back and ask where we were 100 years ago. Where were we? Where was N.? Nowhere! Could we have brought ourselves into existence? Did N. knock at God's door one day and say, "OK, God, it's time for me to be born!" No... N. did not do that, because he/she wasn't there to ask. Why and how did we come into the world at all? We might say, "Our parents came together, and we were conceived and born." Certainly, our parents were necessary for us to be born... But not even that answers the question, because when our parents came together, we did not have to be born... The child born could have been any one of millions of possible brothers or sisters of ours. It didn't have to be you or I or N.! Why, then, are we here? The only answer, ultimately, is that God loves us. It is His love, His choice, that brought us and N. out of the nothingness we were in 100 years ago, and into this world. He loves us, and so we exist!

But now that N. has died, what happened? Did God change His mind? Did God stop loving him/her? Did God's love run out? No, brothers and sisters! And here's the good news: God's love brought N. into existence, and you can't turn God's love off! God hasn't changed His mind! God STILL loves N.! And because God still loves him/her, he/she still will live! The love which brought him/her out of nothingness will bring him/her back from the dead! You can't turn God's love off! That is why there is a resurrection on the last day, and that is why we can take strength from God's love today!

Then Christ goes even a step further... He says to Martha, "I am the Resurrection and the Life!" In other words, "Martha, the reason there will be a resurrection on the last day is because of me! I am the Love and Life of God, and if you believe in Me, you can start sharing the life of the Resurrection now!" Dear friends, this is what Christ says to us today! He is here! He is speaking to us! He is offering us His victory over death. The whole point of our religion is to put us into contact with Christ so that He can share His life with us - a life that conquers death and lasts forever. He is the Resurrection and the Life! Some people believe in heaven but say, "Well, I will live my life in the here and now and then, when I die, if God wants He will bring me to heaven... but I won't think about that now." But Christ teaches us that we are to think about it now. God will bring us to heaven when we die, but only if we take hold of heaven while we live! That is the whole purpose of our life, and of our Church! We are to receive Christ's life by faith, by prayer, by living according to the Commandments and the teachings of the Church, and by receiving the sacraments of the Church, especially Confession and Communion. In this way eternal life is ours!

What Christ asked Martha, He asks us today. "Do you believe this?" We respond with her today, "Yes, I believe." He asked N. that question, and N. said "Yes, I believe." We now pray for N., that this faith will lead him/her to the full glory of heaven. Christ raised Martha's brother Lazarus from that grave. He called his name. "Lazarus, come out!" Because N. called on Christ's name, Christ will call N.'s name again as well, and in His immense love will say, "N., come to life! I did not create you for the grave, but for myself. You have accepted me by faith while on earth. Come, now, and share my life... forever." Amen!

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Priests for Life
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