APRIL 2, 2017: FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT - LAETARE SUNDAY
Father Albert Lakra




First Reading
Ezekiel 37:12-14

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 130:1-8

Second Reading
Romans 8:8-11

Gospel Reading
John 11:1-45 (shorter version John 11:3-7,17,20-27,33b-45)



Out of the depths I call to you O Lord: Lord hear my cry. Listen attentively to the sound of my pleading!’ (Ps 129:1-2) In this, the fifth Sunday of Lent, the Church invites us to turn our attention to the realities that are perhaps the most ‘scandalous’ in human experience, the death of a loved one. In this Gospel we see all those who are being supportive of Martha and Mary at the moment of their brother, Lazarus’ death.

Previously called "Passion Sunday," this Sunday marks the beginning of Passiontide, a deeper time of Lent. This is the third Sunday of the scrutinies for the preparation of adult converts, and the final Sunday of Lent before the beginning of Holy Week. The Liturgy of the Word of this day speaks of re-creation, resurrection, and new life.

The feast of St. Francis of Paola, which is ordinarily celebrated today, is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.


 


Sunday Readings
The first reading from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel 37:12-14 is taken from the chapter about pouring forth the Spirit upon the "dry bones" in the valley of his vision. The prophet speaks of restoration through an act of God through the Spirit and that it was through him that the people first were saved from their oppression in Egypt, and by his power they will be saved again and restored as the people of God. The symbolic meaning of the reading is the resurrection of the people to new life, a theme clearly reiterated in succeeding apocalyptic literature and finally present in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The second reading from St Paul to the Romans 8:8-11 states that through Christ the whole person of the believer is saved, raised up, and redeemed. The realm of the flesh is the realm to be left behind, and the realm of the Spirit is where true life is to be found. But there is no hellenistic dichotomy here between flesh and spirit since the believer lives with the Spirit of God enfleshed in his body so that his whole person will live in conformity with that Spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit refers to the baptism of the person and his consequent moral life.

The Gospel reading, St. John 11:1-45, opens up in front of us a scene of unprecedented sorrow. The Lord Jesus receives the message from the sisters of Lazarus who, when confronted with the gravity of his condition, tried the only thing possible, they turned to the Lord of who it was said: ‘Everything He does is good, he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak’ (Mk 7:37). It is the cry of each one of us who would like their loved ones to live forever without ever leaving us.

The Lord Jesus, inexplicably, waited a further two days before heading for Lazarus’ home. Even then, He only left with His disciples when he divinely knew of His friend’s death. This particular detail from the Gospel tells us that the Word of God was made Man for the love of all of us. Also that His look of love is always upon us waiting for that meeting of immense joy that will happen in eternity.

Upon Jesus’ arrival in Bethany there was a new apparently inexplicable development in the story. First Mary, then her sister Marta and behind them all the Jews who were united with them, converge on Jesus with the certainty that if there was a response to their sorrow it would come from Him. They were not irreligious people who were looking to Jesus for a solution. They profoundly accepted Israel’s faith in the final Resurrection and so even this event was not ultimately inexplicable. In fact Martha said to the Lord, ‘I know that he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’. (Jn 11:24) However, knowing that in relation to the Lord, nothing that was authentically human in them or their cry of sorrow be would be lost. Prior to that, their only consolation came from the eschatological faith of the time.

In this last sign, worked by the Lord before His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, everything seams to flow to that ‘new reality’ inaugurated by Emmanuel, God with us. Sharing our existence, Jesus had loved us with a supreme passion, with that virginal love that doesn’t seek to possess the heart of the other, but to love it in truth with delicate insistence right up to sacrificing Himself for us. In this infinite delicacy and attention to everyone, He was able to be moved by those who were linked to Him by ties of the most profound friendship who understood that it could not be anything but God’s presence amongst them.

‘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 Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world. (Jn 11:25-27)

Christ then performed the great miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. He announced, through the work of the Father, that He, Himself, God made man, is the Resurrection and the Life.

He is also the Lord of biological life. His voice can reach those who, like Lazarus, have exceeded the threshold of four days from their death and arrived at the point where bodily corruption commences. Faced with this sign, the words with which He foretold His Resurrection become clearer: ‘I lay down my life, that I may take it again.’(Jn 10:17) He really can ‘take up [His life] again’ as He is the Word of Life.
If Lazarus’ resurrection didn’t stop the Lord’s beloved friend from embracing ‘our sister death’ – to use St Francis’ expression - when God finally called him again from this life, then how much greater is the Life that the Lord has earned for Lazarus and everyone of us in the Pascal Mystery that we are preparing to celebrate a few days from now.

It was Martha and Mary’s faith, even when confronted with Lazarus’ death that gave rise to the extraordinary miracle worked by Christ. This is not only a consoling story narrated in the letters of the Gospel, but it is also accessible to us today in the Church from the day of our Baptism until when we are incorporated to Him by means of the Spirit that He has given to us. ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.’ (Rom 8:11)

Most Holy Mary, the mother of the Risen One, give us the grace to look towards and live the light of this extraordinary reality – the promise of Resurrection in Christ. Amen.









From the Congregation for the Clergy

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Hope in the Easter Season
In this season of Easter, the messages are about hope and new life; joy and living in Jesus. But how do we live a ...to be continued

 

APRIL 13: HOLY THURSDAY
Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
Susan Naatz
In today’s gospel we witness the extravagant love of Jesus who kneels in front of his disciples and one by one ...to be continued

 

APRIL 14: GOOD FRIDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION
Dom H. Philibert Feasey, o.s.b.
We call this Friday “Good” because on this day we remember how much God loves us. On this day we “celebrate” the ...to be continued

 

APRIL 16: EASTER SUNDAY
Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Today we begin the Easter Season, our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ's Resurrection. Our Gospel ...to be continued

 

APRIL 9: PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION
Dick Hauser, S.J.
These words of Jesus spoken while hanging on the cross are among the most disturbing words in the Gospels. Jesus’ cry of ...to be continued

 

APRIL 9: PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION
Today we begin Holy Week, the days during which we journey with Jesus on his way of the cross and anticipate his ...to be continued

 

APRIL 2: FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT - LAETARE SUNDAY
Father Albert Lakra
Out of the depths I call to you O Lord: Lord hear my cry. Listen ...to be continued

APRIL 2: FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Our Gospel on this day, the fifth Sunday of Lent, is again taken ...to be continued

 

 

PROPOSALS FOR MEDITATION - We want to offer spiritual texts, which can be of help to nourish our faith and strengthen our life in Christ: they are an opportunity to compare our experience with that of Christian witnesses 'old' and contemporary.

Easter Joy for Everyday Life
Our Hope for Everlasting Life
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel - Saint Andrew of Crete
We keep the coming feast of the Lord through deeds, not words - Saint Athanasius
Are we not all one another's brothers? - Theodore the Studite
Christ the high priest makes atonement for our sins - Origen

 

 

 

 

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