La vita è bella – Life is beautiful: Under this name screened, a film by Roberto Benigni in 1997 and won three Oscar prizes. The first half of the film offers a lot to laugh, while the second half tells the tragic story of people who were moved to a concentration camp. We see here, Benigni as Guido, the father of Giosue who was also taken to the camp, trying to conceal the truth and the atrocities of the concentration camp to his son; tries to distract him with his self-invented games and rules; to make him happy and to hide him from the authority. We see in this film the efforts of a father who wants to protects his son and make him happy. For that he takes a lot of risks…

When I read today’s Gospel, the story of this film came to my mind.
I think Jesus is doing exactly the same thing.

We hear today that Jesus goes to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem awaits him nothing good, because the Jewish leaders have already started their plans to destroy him.
Jesus is aware of it; he knew he would die soon.
Nevertheless he does not reverse his decision.

Two things led him to Jerusalem:
At first: He does not want to hide from his opponents.
He wants to face the problems and not run away.
“If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world“ says Jesus. Yes, Jesus lived in the light of his father.
Jesus knew what he had done was right.
It was not his will, but the will of God.

The second reason was, he wants to visit his friend Lazarus to raise him.
His main intention was not to work a miracle. He could have done it even without traveling to Jerusalem. His only intention was to glorify of God.

Jesus uses here an interesting expression:
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him“.
Yes, that’s really interesting. Because when friends visit each other, the host will get up to receive the guest. If Lazarus is asleep, he is has to get up to greet his friend Jesus. He can not sleep at all…
And we hear it in the Gospel:
Lazarus is raised by the presence of Jesus.
Because Lazarus hears the voice of his friend.
On one hand, Jesus shows the necessity of true friendship.
The Gospel says that Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus. This human love was always very important to him, together with the love of God.

The power and glory of his Father can even raise the dead.
This wonder is again a sign to his opponents.
Jesus wants to make it clear that he will certainly rise from the dead, even if they kill him. Then, if God can raise up Lazarus, then he can give new life to his son. Jesus asserts, his Father is the God of life.

My dear friends,
Jesus embraces his cross in order to give life to Lazarus.
And he does again and again…
In the Eucharist, in the love and sacrifice of many people Jesus sacrifices again and again… for us… for all the people… for the world…

If we do good in the name of God and help others and if we do it with love,
we too do it – like the father in the film.

My dear ones,
let us examine our own lives and actions!
Do we good for the glory of God or for our own reputation?
Or we do it out of genuine love?

God bless us in his mercy. Amen!

–Thomas Kalathil

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