I have no near-death experience, but I have dreamt of something in the past which made
me realize how grateful I should be to the Lord for giving me life. Even before God called me to exist and be born, He has already written me in His palm. He shows me that my life is never a mistake nor a mismatch.
This was how my dream went on, which my mother and grandmother verified when I
asked them about the accuracy of details. It was 1958 in the farming town of Oas, Albay. My grandmother was about to give birth to her sixth child. Her pregnancy was so delicate, which according to the barrio doctor, only had a very slim chance that the pregnancy would push through. Either the baby or my grandmother will survive, but not both. It was September 8, 1958, the birthday of the Virgin Mary, when the whole Bicol region was experiencing a heavy downpour because of a typhoon, that my grandmother gave birth to a healthy baby girl. It was contrary to the diagnosis of the doctor that a stillbirth might happen. She was my aunt, Salvacion, named after the Patroness of Albay, because according to my grandmother, “Nag- salvar ang tita mo kaya nabuhay din ako (referring to my aunt and herself).” My mother Zenaida, would become the seventh child. She was able to live because my grandmother had survived in giving birth to her sixth child. Had my mother not been born, I would not be living now.
The Gospel for this Sunday helps me recognize in myself the gift of life that God has
intended for me. My life, then, is itself the greatest gift I can give—something I constantly
forget. When I think about myself being given to others, what comes immediately to my mind are my unique talents: those abilities that make special things especially well. However, when focusing on talents, I tend to forget that my real gift is not so much what I can do, but who I am. The real question is not “What can I offer to others?” but “Who can I be for others?” In the end, it is not what we have that counts, but what and who we are. God is the God of Life and Resurrection. He is our refuge in times of dying to self.
By Sem. Keith Buenaventura
THE GOSPEL TODAY
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
hen Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.