5th Sunday of Lent
On the 5th Sunday of Lent, the first reading is about Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones. It announces the restoration of Israel which had been dead in every sense of the word; it is an affirmation of the hope that God has not abandoned his people, he will once again restore them. He assures that he will put spirit into dry bones (V.12). The scene here is the replay of what God did at the time of creation of man – God breathed into man the breath of life and man became alive, endowed with a spiritual soul (Gen 2:7). This also echoes the reading we heard on the first Sunday of lent indicating that God’s works are signs of life, life opposed to all forms of death including sin present in human kind. It points to the idea of the resurrection of the body to eternal life.
In the Gospel of John (11:1-45) as in Ezekiel, the raising of Lazarus who is dead is a sign of Jesus giving life to human beings. Lazarus personifies the humanity who, afflicted and wounded by sin and in the process of death, will be called to life by Jesus. He would ‘untie’ the bonds of sin, free them from death through forgiveness of sins and lead them to everlasting life.
In this event of restoration of life we must note some significant lessons.
- Resurrection does not just mean prolonging of life; it is transformation of entire being. It is spiritual.
- Resurrection is a ‘certain hope’ for all those who believe in the Lord of life. “Any one who hears my word and believes the one who sent me has eternal life; he has passed from death to life” (5:25) and will never die (11:25).
- The event itself points towards the glorious resurrection of Jesus the Lord. Ironically, his journey to Bethania was a gradual movement to confront his own death. He would lay down his life in giving life to others. The apostles who seemed to understand this were of the mind to “go that we may die with him”(V.16).
- The faith of Martha and Mary makes it more clear for us to believe. “Yes Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God” (V.27) “the resurrection and the life” (V.25); only through you and because of you we will live.
John himself summarizes this message in 5:21-29. God in Jesus give us life; through resurrection he renews the whole of creation by giving human kind a new and transformed life. In the resurrection of Jesus we are able to see God’s love which engenders life through the words and works of Christ. To those who believe, eternal life becomes a present reality, “To know the only true God, is eternal life” (17:3). Such a faith would mean, we are already in possession of eternal life here and now as the fruit of our relationship with the triune God through prayer and charity. This is what we hope to obtain through our Lenten exercises.
Apostle Paul makes an earnest appeal to us in Romans 8:8-11. “Christ is within you”, he says “the Spirit is life and holiness” (v.10). Therefore choose to be led by the “Spirit” not by the “flesh”, because “flesh” tends towards death while “spirit” gives life to your mortal bodies. Then, brothers and sisters, as we progress in our Lenten journey and approach nearer to the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, let us resolve to “leave the flesh and no longer live according to it. Rather, walk in the Spirit and put to death the sins of the body so that we may live in the Father, Son and Spirit. (V.13). Amen.
(Readings:1 R Ez 37:12-14; 2 R Rom 8:8-11; Gos Jn 11:1.45)