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Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.

Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.

5th Sunday Lent A

What a claim Jesus makes!

“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.”
And then he adds a straightforward question: “Do you believe this?”

What would it mean to say “Yes” to this question?

We must start with being honest about life. A basic part of life is death; it is inevitable for all of us. Circumstances and times may differ, but there is no way of escaping it. And even before we come to die, we have enough experiences in life that smell of death: broken relationships, the shattering of dreams, various forms of violence, abuse; our sinfulness.

But however true death is for all of us, however real the things that smell of death in our lives are, there is one reality that is even more true and more real; and that reality ultimately defeats the power that death has; it is God’s love for us embodied in Jesus. What Jesus wants us to know is that death, however real, is no match for God’s love for us that he embodies. Death and all the things that smell of death have no final hold on us. Their hold on us is shattered by what God offers us in Jesus.

By saying “Yes” to the question of Jesus we put our trust and our hope in the irrevocable promise of life which God offers us in Jesus dead and risen. Death and all the things that smell of death, however real, are defeated because the life-giving power of God’s love for us is greater. By saying “Yes” we say – and we shape our lives accordingly – that there is not a grave, not a tomb, not a darkness so deep that Jesus cannot rescue us from it.

This is very much part of the core of the Christian faith. It was articulated so eloquently last Thursday by Rev. Don Schiemann during the National Memorial Service in Edmonton when he eulogized his son Constable Peter Schiemann, one of the four RCMP officers killed in Alberta:

“….We know of one who does understand and feel our pain because he lost his son, too. It happened when God gave the sinless life of his son at the cross to redeem sinful lives and to purchase forgiveness for us all. Three days later, he raised his son from the dead and conquered death. It is through this event where human history was intersected by divine grace and mercy that we have hope. This hope, that’s what is sustaining us……”

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