Thoughts on the Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent (A) 2020

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/032920.cfm 

“Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  These words from our Gospel this Sunday were spoken by Martha in response to the death of her brother Lazarus.    I would like to suggest, though, that they represent the feeling (if not the actual words) of many of us when we encounter difficulties.   It is very easy to think that because we live a good life, because we pray and go to church regularly, that bad things shouldn’t happen to us.   The reality is, though, that sometimes bad things happen to good people.  We don’t know why this is.   We just know that it does happen.   More importantly, though, we know that even when bad things happen, God is with us.   God suffers with us in our pain.  God rejoices with us in our happiness.  And God grieves with us in the face of death.   I say this because in our Gospel for this weekend we are told that when they brought Jesus to the tomb of Lazarus he “wept.”    

In this Sunday’s Gospel, it is also important to note that while Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead, it is important to note that this was a resuscitation --- a return to this life.  While it pre-figures the resurrection, the difference is not just one of degree, but of kind.   The resurrected life, is not just this life forever and ever.  Rather it is a sharing in the very life of our God.   We don’t know what the resurrected life will be like, but we do know and believe that in the resurrection we will be happy forever with our God.    

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.   Ezekiel was a prophet during the Babylonian captivity.   This reading opens with the words:  “Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.”   These words should not be taken as a prophecy of the Resurrection, (At the time of Ezekiel the Jewish people did not have a firm belief in an afterlife.) but rather as a promise of restoration, e.g. eventually the Jews would be brought back to the land of Israel.     

Our second reading this Sunday is again taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In it we are reminded 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, through his Spirit dwelling in you.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:   
1.  Is it easy or difficult for you to believe in Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of eternal life?  
2.  What helps you or what stands in the way of believing in eternal life? 
3.  How do you know when God’s Spirit is dwelling in you?  

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