Mar. 9: Fifth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Juan de Flandes, The Raising of Lazarus, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1514

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11
Gospel: John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die (NRSV, Jn 11:25-26).”

Let us pray.

Father, today, in preparation for the coming celebration of the great solemnity of Easter, we rehearse the wonderful story of the restoration to physical life of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. It gives us the opportunity to reflect in advance on the true significance of death.

We realize, to begin, Father, that the story of Lazarus involves not a true resurrection at all but rather a resuscitation, not a passage through death to a new and fuller life, but rather a summons back to this earthly life with all of its magnificence but also all of its limitations. A person who is resuscitated (if that were possible) would once again be subject to the restrictions of space and time, of knowledge always conditioned by a point of view, of being misunderstood, of injury, further sickness, yes, and inevitably death again. Yes, Lazarus brought back to this life would still have to pass through physical death for a second time.

At every moment, Father, your Word, present to us from the womb, his presence defining our human existence, calls us to accept a share in divine life. Over and over again, he challenges us to die to self and selfishness, everything we have been up to that moment, to become something truly new. Physical death is not our undoing but the culmination of everything that has gone before. In physical death, everything must be let go in a complete emptying of self. Physical death is not defeat but can be the final hour of glory in which a definitive choice for you, Father, is made.

Through your Word, Father, continue to enlighten us so that we may realize that it is only the blindness brought about by sin that makes us afraid of death as defeat, that in reality death is passage to a life that can be more complete, that it is the final act of our earthly existence and should be for us, as for Jesus, an hour of glory.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

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