Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 2, 2017): The happy truth about the Lenten journey

Thứ Bảy, 01-04-2017 | 18:00:37

Today’s Readings:

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.

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.”
when 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?”
Jesus answered,
“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.

Good News Reflection:

Lent is not about suffering and sacrifice. It’s a corridor to new life. Good Friday is not about evil and pain and death. It’s the door that Jesus opens to invite us into that new life.

Yes, suffering is part of the Lenten journey (which can be experienced at any time of the year). Yes, Lent includes the sacrifices of fasting and abstinence, almsgiving and extra time in church. But these are just vehicles for the trip.

God uses our sufferings (if we let him) to help us grow in compassion, persistence, and ministry. Our sacrifices help us learn discipline (which is discipleship) so that we can purify our will and grow stronger in holiness. But the trip is not the destination.

Lent is all about reaching the resurrection: renewing our faith, entering a new life free of old sins, reconciling damaged relationships, and living in the Spirit of God more than we ever did before.

Which day is more important to your faith: Good Friday or Easter Sunday? That horrid day on Calvary was absolutely necessary for Easter, but we are living in the resurrection! Catholics are an Easter people. This means that nothing bad can ever happen to us that will not be transformed into blessings if Jesus is the Lord of our lives.

He proved himself to be the Resurrection and the Life by displaying his power over life and death. Now he wants to prove it again — to you and to all those who are watching.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What needs to be resurrected in your life? What will you do this week to accept the death of what has ended so that you can prepare for the new life that Jesus is preparing for you?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
1. We can personalize the first reading by understanding that God will open our graves (whatever is dead inside of us) and will place his Spirit of Life within us. How does the Holy Spirit help us discover healing and hope amidst our daily sufferings and dyings?

2. In the scripture from Romans, we are reminded again of the Holy Spirit within us. Since the Spirit is alive in you, what affect does this have on your Lenten journey? What is being purified, strengthened, and renewed?

3. In the Gospel, Jesus proves his power over death just before he enters Jerusalem and heads toward Calvary. How does this prove to you that your own sufferings and sacrifices will not lead to permanent disaster?

Today’s Prayer:

Thank You, my Lord, for caring about everything that happens to me. For You there are no lost causes. How could I resist Your almighty love? Amen.

© 2017 by Terry A. Modica

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