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5th Sunday of Lent 2014

We are now deep into our Lenten observance as we approach enter the 5th week of Lent. During this cycle the readings, typically used for the RCIA, are meant to reveal to us that Jesus is the Christ, the chosen one to reconcile us to the Father. Two weeks ago we focused on having faith in God and the symbolism of water. Last week we focused on redemption and the symbols of anointing and light.  This week – the final week before Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – our focus is on restoration, vividly depicted through the resurrection of Lazarus, while giving us a foretaste of what is to come…

The Word for the 5th Sunday of Lent
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

We open with a reading from the prophet Ezekiel.  While not often read during the Liturgical cycle, Ezekiel is considered one of the major prophets, and his message is as unique as his calling.  Ezekiel, having been born into the priestly class, received his call to prophecy 10 years into the Babylonian Exile.  This makes him the first Israelite prophet to receive his call outside of Israel, and is often referred to as the “Father of Judaism” because as both a priest and a prophet, his writings had a major influence on the post-exilic practice of the faith.  Today’s passage from Ezekiel comes from his “Vision of the Dry Bones.”  Through this vision we see hope for the restoration of Jerusalem.  While this reading would seem to deal with the doctrine of resurrection, especially as heard through our Christian ears, that is not the focus of the reading, but rather a literary device used to show the hope of the restoration of Israel… a sentiment echoed by our Psalm as we sing “with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”

Our second reading comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  As learned two weeks ago, this letter is unique in that it’s focus is on introducing Jesus and the Gospel to a large, mixed community for the first time.  In this week’s passage, Paul explains that we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and by having the Spirit within us, we become more than flesh.  We are, people of the resurrection… an Easter People.

Finally in our Gospel, unique to John, we hear the story of the raising of Lazarus.  As with our Gospels for the past two weeks, John goes to great lengths to give us the initial setup… by explaining who Lazarus and his family are, how important they are to Jesus, and how fearful the Apostles are at going near the city (noting that this story follows just before the Passover celebration and the Gospel’s final discourses before the Passion).  In cinematic terms, John is using “the slow reveal.”  As with everything in John’s Gospel, Jesus’ actions are deliberate… waiting before going to see Lazarus, the responses of both Mary and Martha, Jesus’ not going into the house or the tomb.  All these elements are meant to show Jesus’ power (through God) over death, and that this evidence should be irrefutable.


Saint of the Day:
Lazarus

Walking with the Saints:
Women Who Knew Jesus

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