Thoughts on the Readings for the 5th Sunday in Lent (A) 2017

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 

This Sunday we celebrate the 5th Sunday of the season of Lent.  Our Gospel for this Sunday is the familiar story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.  Despite the familiarity of this story, there are a couple of intriguing details that defy easy explanation.  1. If Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, why then, when Jesus learned of Lazarus’ illness, did he not immediately go to him instead of “remaining for two days in the place where he was.”?  2. Also, after Jesus’ saw Martha and Mary weeping and the Jews who had come with them weeping why did: “He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, ‘’Where have you laid him’”.  What caused him to be perturbed and troubled?   Any responses to these questions are at best educated guesses.  What we do know from the story, though, is very important.  Specifically this story reminds us that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth --- and he has promised eternal life to all those who believe in him.  His words are clear: “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.”  

In regard to this Gospel, there is one more thing to note. When Lazarus was raised from the dead, he returned to this life. The story of Lazarus is the story of a resuscitation, not a resurrection story.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.  In the section we read this Sunday, the Israelites are in captivity in Babylon.  In this terrible situation Ezekiel reminds the Israelites that God will restore them --- not because they deserve it, but rather as a sign of God’s sovereignty.   "I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon the land, thus you shall know that I am the Lord.  I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.”   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.  In the section we read this Sunday Paul reminds the people that “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, though his Spirit dwelling in you.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. While we don’t know what the resurrected life will be like, we do know that it is not the same as a resuscitated life.  What’s your conception of the resurrected life?  
  2. Jesus called Lazarus to come forth from the tomb.  Where is Christ calling you to come out of a tomb?  
  3. What do you think Paul meant when he talked about the Spirit of God dwelling in us?  

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