The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking The Easter Egg Fishing with Uncle Mike Loving Like Jesus God’s in Love with This World

If Only

April 2, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

April 2, 2017
John 11:1-45
Fr. George Smiga

There are many characters in today’s gospel: Jesus, his disciples, Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and a group of Jews who come to mourn Lazarus’ death. But of all these characters, it is Martha who speaks for us. Because Martha expresses in one line a situation that is all too often ours, a situation in which we have lost something that is dear to us and we can do nothing about it. Martha believed that Jesus was a great healer and a miracle-worker, so she was convinced that if Jesus could touch her brother, Lazarus, he would not die. But Jesus arrived too late to do that. He came after Lazarus was dead for four days. So Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if only had you been here, my brother would not have died.” If only Jesus had been there. But he was not, and now her brother was gone.

Martha’s words of sad resignation characterize many moments in our own lives, moments that could be captured in the phrase “if only.”  If only my son did not go out with his friends that night, he would not have been in a traffic accident. If only my daughter did not fall in with that group, she would not be abusing drugs. If only my father did not smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, he would still be alive. If only I had been faithful to my spouse, I would still be married. If only the circumstances were different or the mistakes were not made, this tragedy could have been avoided. But the circumstances were not different, the mistakes were made, and now we, like Martha, face a tragedy we cannot escape.

Martha knows our experiences of resignation and regret and she speaks them to Jesus. But it is good news for us that she does not stop there. Martha adds another line, a line of faith. She says, “Yet even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Martha knows she cannot do anything about her situation, all the “if-onlies” did not occur. Her brother is now dead. But her faith in Jesus is real. So Martha hands over her life to Jesus. She says, “I know that God will grant you anything you ask.” Martha does not tell Jesus what to ask. She trusts him, and he does not disappoint her. In this powerful gospel, Martha moves from the resignation that nothing can be done to the recognition that God is still able to act. She moves from hopelessness in the face of death to trust in someone who loves her.

And Martha invites us to do the same. As we count all the losses in our lives, as we grieve over the mistakes we have made, as we fret over all the “if-onlies” that never happened, Martha invites us to entrust our lives to the one to whom all things are possible. She does not promise us that our beloved dead will come back to life like her brother, Lazarus. She does not suggest that all of our regrets will become happy endings. But she does remind us that there is one greater than us and that it is always wise to trust him.

Martha tells us that with God there are no “if-onlies.” There are only “not-yets.” So as strange as it sounds, it is right that we gather together all that is hopeless and seemingly finished in our lives and turn it over to Jesus, and then wait in hushed darkness for the first rays of light.

Change this in Theme Options
Change this in Theme Options