|Meeting of Jesus and Martha by Linson|
19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”
The Second Vatican Council teaches that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts, attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.” He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 439, 993, 994 and 1001.
11:21–22. According to St Augustine, Martha’s request is a good example of confident prayer, a prayer of abandonment into the hands of God, who knows better than we what we need. Therefore, “she did not say, But now I ask you to raise my brother to life again. […] All she said was, I know that you can do it; if you will, do it; it is for you to judge whether to do it, not for me to presume” (In Ioann. Evang., 49, 13). The same can be said of Mary’s words, which St John repeats at v. 32.
11:24–26. Here we have one of the most concise definitions Christ gives of himself, and which St John faithfully passes on to us (cf. Jn 10:9; 14:6; 15:1): Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Resurrection because by his victory over death he is the cause of the resurrection of all men. The miracle he works in raising Lazarus is a sign of Christ’s power to give life to people. And so, by faith in Jesus Christ, who arose first from among the dead, the Christian is sure that he too will rise one day, like Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:23; Col 1:18).
Therefore, for the believer death is not the end; it is simply the step to eternal life, a change of dwelling place, as one of the Roman Missal’s Prefaces of Christian Death puts it: “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven”.
By saying that he is Life, Jesus is referring not only to that life which begins beyond the grave, but also to the supernatural life which grace brings to the soul of man when he is still a wayfarer on this earth.
“This life, which the Father has promised and offered to each man in Jesus Christ, his eternal and only Son, who ‘when the time had fully come’ (Gal 4:4), became incarnate and was born of the Virgin Mary, is the final fulfilment of man’s vocation. It is in a way the fulfilment of the ‘destiny’ that God has prepared for him from eternity. This ‘divine destiny’ is advancing, in spite of all the enigmas, the unsolved riddles, the twists and turns of ‘human destiny’ in the world of time. Indeed, while all this, in spite of all the riches of life in times, necessarily and inevitably leads to the frontiers of death and the goal of the destruction of the human body, beyond that goal we see Christ. ‘I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me … shall never die.’ In Jesus Christ, who was crucified and laid in the tomb and then rose again, ‘our hope of resurrection dawned … the bright promise of immortality’ (Roman Missal, Preface of Christian Death, I), on the way to which man, through the death of the body, shares with the whole of visible creation the necessity to which matter is subject” (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 18).
Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome