Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Homily for Memorial Mass for Judith Blaker

Homily for the
Memorial Mass for Judith Blaker
May 9, 2017
John 11: 32-45
Acts 10: 34-43
Holy Cross, Champaign, Ill.                    

“Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb” (John 11: 38).

The raising of Lazarus (Byzantine icon)
1st, in the shortest verse in the Bible, St. John tells us, “Jesus wept” (11:35).  A moment later, he reaffirms how deeply upset Jesus is by the death and burial of his friend Lazarus.  Jesus loves the people who are his friends—people he has freely chosen himself, for he tells us at the Last Supper, “You have not chosen me; I have chosen you” (John 15:16).

Jesus hates death.  He hates whatever is destructive of the well-being of his beloved friends.  In the gospel we heard on Sunday, he said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  In this story of the raising of the Lazarus, he asks Martha and the others present, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” (11:40).  The glory of God is revealed in this episode of Jesus’ ministry when Lazarus comes out of the tomb, and Jesus orders that he be set free—freed symbolically from the burial shroud and its bindings, freed graphically from the grasp of death.

St. Irenaeus, a late-2d-century Father of the Church—the Fathers were the 1st theologians who meditated upon and explained the Scriptures—wrote, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”  What Jesus does for Lazarus is only a partial revelation of God’s glory, a temporary restoration of life.  God’s full glory in human beings is yet to be revealed.

In each of us there already shines some bit of God’s glory.  The seeds of his glory were planted in us at Baptism and were watered or nourished by the Holy Eucharist.  We see those seeds flowering—God’s glory bursting forth—in various virtues.  E.g., in Judy we saw sensitivity to God’s creation, especially his animal creation.  We saw it in her care for the sick and the elderly.  We saw it in her devotion to her husband and daughter and son.  We saw it in her sense of humor.  These were simple but basic virtues.  Each of us reveals God’s glory in a different way as long as we open ourselves to his design for us.

And when we do that, the fullness of God’s life is promised us:  “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”  God raised Jesus on the 3d day, fully revealing the divine glory in someone human like us, and “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins thru his name” (Acts 10:40,43).  When we’re set free from our sins, we’re untied, unbound, from the power of death over us, so that God will raise us up to the eternal life of our Lord Jesus.

This is our prayer today for Judy:  that any and all sins that she committed out of human weakness be forgiven.  It was for that forgiveness, that spiritual healing, that I anointed her twice in the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in the last months of her life [make aside about the sacrament], so that she might be raised up by Jesus—not on the 3d day but on the Last Day—to live with Jesus and all God’s saints, revealing the glory of God as fully as he designed her to do.

To God be the glory, forever and ever!

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