Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 10, 2011 - 5th Sunday of Lent

Rembrandt 1630
Remember that our familiarity with a Bible story warrants greater preparation, not less.
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45  (Within this reading is contained the shortest verse in the Bible; John 11:35 "Jesus wept")

At Lazarus’ Tomb
  As we draw near to the end of Lent, the 5th Sunday, Sunday's Gospel reading clearly has Jesus’ passion and death in view. We read about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  It's a well known story and on that count alone, it deserves our reading and study beforehand lest we take it for granted or pay it less attention than it deserves.
John gives us the detail about Lazarus’ sister, Mary - that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3,7). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will “die with Him” if they go back.

When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus’ burial cloths and head covering - all details he later notices with Jesus’ empty tomb (see John 20:1,6,7).
Like the blind man in last week’s readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for “dead man” - for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death.

John even recalls the blind man in his account today (see John 11:37). Like the man’s birth in blindness, Lazarus’ death is used by Jesus to reveal “the glory of God” (see John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus’ words and deeds give sight to those who believe (see John 11:40).

Van Gogh 1890
If we believe, we will see - that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.

The first scripture of the day brings us a portion of a longer reading from Ezekiel we'll hear at the Easter Vigil"  "I will open your graves and have you rise from them!"  The relationship of this text to the gospel account it compelling.
By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel’s promise. He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live.

This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today’s Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to we who were once dead in sin.
"The One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also..."  Romans 8:11
This clearly connects with the thread that weaves the days texts as one.

Certainly, these readings prepare us for the celebration of Easter but on any day of the year they confirm our faith in the promise of life after death and renew our hope that one day we shall be gathered together again in the joy of God's kingdom. 

Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in today’s Gospel - that Jesus is the resurrection and the life - even if we die, we will live.

I have promised and I will do it,” the Father assures us in the First Reading. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today’s Psalm - that with Him is forgiveness and salvation.

You will find texts for this Sunday and more commentary on them here.  Bringing children to Mass this weekend?  Here are hints for helping them prepare to hear the Lord's Word.

Rembrandt 1630

Scott Hahn 
You can Listen to Scott Hahn's commentary here!
A Concord Pastor Comments
Art and the Bible

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