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
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
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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