Death with hope in resurrection, challenging us to be alive and not spiritually dead by mortal sin, is the central theme today.
Reporting his vision in the first reading, Ezekiel bears witness to the reanimation of the dead Israel in preparation for her return to the Promised Land. He assures them that God’s life-giving Breath will restore His people, give them new life and resettle them in their land.
St. Paul, in the second reading, assures the early Roman Christians who were facing death by persecution, and us who are surrounded by a culture of death, that the same Spirit, Who raised Jesus from the dead and Who dwells within us, will raise our mortal bodies to life on the Last Day. Paul considers the Resurrection of Jesus the basis for our hope of sharing in Jesus’ Resurrection.
For John, in today’s Gospel, the raising of Lazarus is the final and greatest sign of Jesus, the Deliverer, a symbolic narrative of his Final Victory over death at the cost of his human life and a sign anticipating his Resurrection. Describing this great miracle, the Church assures us that we, too, will be raised into eternal life after our battle with sin and death in this world. Thus, resurrection hope is the central theme of the Scripture readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The readings assure us that our Faith in Jesus, who is “the Resurrection and the Life,” promises our participation in his resurrection and new life.
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“Lazarus, come out!” People love this line from scripture, for Jesus has proven his authority, even over the dead. And yet, if you read the whole story, you know that Jesus could have possibly intervened before Lazarus died. So why the intentional delay? When Jesus learns of His friend’s illness, He says, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus fully intends to use the despair surrounding Lazarus’s death to create more conversion.