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Scripture Reflections - March 29
Fifth Sunday of Lent

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Romans 8:8-11
John 11: 1-45

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

This Sunday was formerly called Passion Sunday, which intensified our preparation for Holy Week. This year, we have experienced the coronavirus pandemic, with its disruptions of normal life and social contacts. We have all the more reason to join this with our last efforts to cleanse ourselves of darkness and sin through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The readings this week are all about overcoming death through resurrection – both death of the body and death of the soul. The first reading from the great prophet, Ezekiel, takes us back to the time of Israel’s captivity in Babylon. Ezekiel has a vision of dead bones strewn all over the desert. God asks him if he thinks these bones will ever come to life again. God tells Ezekiel to challenge Him and tell the bones to put on sinews and flesh. He does so. Then He asks Ezekiel to further challenge Him to put His spirit into those bones. When Ezekiel obeys, the dead bones come fully alive! Today’s reading is the conclusion of this vision, in which God tells the Israelites that He will do for them what He did for those dry bones – raise them from the death of bondage to freedom in His Spirit.

Today’s Gospel narrates the last of the seven signs that John tells us about by which Jesus makes clear that He is the long-awaited Messiah. It’s about His raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. He has known for some days that Lazarus is very ill, but instead of hurrying to his side, he deliberately delays until Lazarus is dead. When Jesus finally arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead four days. He is reproached by both Martha and Mary, who are not quite convinced that he is the Messiah. As he approaches the tomb, he weeps not only for Lazarus, but even more for the disbelief of so many. He calls loudly, “Lazarus, come out.” When Lazarus emerges, Jesus tells those standing by to “Unbind him and let him go free.” Many more believe, but many do not.

The second reading shows St. Paul’s firm belief that if we live in the Spirit, our dead bones will rise by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. To live in the Spirit, however, demands that we sincerely repent of our sins and let God change whatever needs changing in our lives. During this fifth week of Lent, we need to let the power of Jesus’ spirit work freely in us.

The vision of Ezekiel and the raising of Lazarus from the dead should be proof enough for us. Jesus is calling loudly to us this Sunday to come forth from whatever darkness and death that still clings to our spirit.

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