- O my people, I will open your gravesand have you rise from them, andbring you back to the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12-13) - 1st Reading
- If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,the one who raised Christ from the deadwill give life to your mortal bodies also,through his Spirit dwelling in you. (Romans 8:10-11) - 2nd Reading
- And Jesus wept [over the death of his friend, Lazarus].So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” (John 11:35-36) - Gospel
For most of us, as we grow older, we attend more and more funerals. And before long, we begin thinking about preparing for our own funerals. We begin asking, "Who do I want to be the pall bearers? What songs do I want to be sung? What scripture passages do I want to be read? What kind of casket do I want? What do I want written on my headstone?" This week I walked around a gravesite before conducting a burial service and noticed various sayings on people's gravestones. Some were scripture verses: "He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life." (John 3:16) "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:21) Some spoke about what the person was like: "She gave so much and demanded so little." "To know her was to love her." Have you ever given some thoughts on how you wanted your funeral to be arranged?
To miss someone means that that you feel the absence of the person that was so important and precious in your life. And sometimes you miss that person so much that it hurts; you may cry over them and you may feel sadness. In today's Gospel, some notice how Jesus cried over the death of his friend, Lazarus. Others noticed his grief. They said, "See how he loved him." I sometimes ask in the confessional, "When was the last time someone said to you, 'I missed you?'" And the person begins to tear up. Sometimes they tear up because they feel like they have not been missed by anyone. And sometimes they tear up because they miss someone who is no longer in their life.
The great mystery is that just as Jesus missed Lazarus, Jesus misses us. Heavenly Father misses us. He misses our voice, our presence, and our affection. We may say to him, "Jesus, I come to mass every Sunday. Every evening, I say a little prayer to you." But we can be physically nearby, but our hearts may not be open to Him. We can be sitting on a bar stool at a restaurant right next to a stranger, engrossed in reading something. After the meal, though, the person sitting next to us still remains a stranger because we did not open ourselves to them. We know that technology now allows us to be so connected --via Facebook, Twitter, texting, and cell phones--yet many observed that these connections are superficial. After making these 'connections' we still feel unconnected and unfulfilled. We may believe that we have made heartfelt connections to Jesus and Heavenly Father, yet we still feel unloved because these were superficial connections. Blessed Mother points this out in this month's message from Medjugorje:
Dear children; With motherly love I desire to open the heart of each of you and to teach you personal unity with The Father. To accept this, you must comprehend that you are important to God and that He is calling you individually. You must comprehend that your prayer is a conversation of a child with The Father; that love is the way by which you must set out - love for God and for your neighbour. That is, my children, the love that has no boundaries, that is, the love that emanates from truth and goes to the end. Follow me, my children, so that also others, in recognizing the truth and love in you, may follow you. Thank you. ” (April 2, 2011)
The love that Jesus has for us is more powerful than death. That Divine Love enables the deceased loved ones to reach through the veil between Heaven and Earth and express their love for their loved ones--"Father, please tell them that I miss them, that I love them." Not only do our deceased loved ones miss us, but our Heavenly Father misses us, and He desires us to open our hearts to Him. When was the last time we said to Him, "Father, I miss you, too!"