The Fifth Sunday of Lent Ez 37:12-14; Rm 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45 (Year A)
“The Lord says this: I am going to open your graves. I mean to raise you from your graves and lead you back to the soil of Israel. I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this: it is the Lord who speaks.”
The words of the prophet Ezekiel spoke to the frailty and uncertainties of a broken people. The faith of a once confident people had been severely shaken. Although they had survived the devastation of Jerusalem’s destruction, something had died within them. They had returned to the ruins of everything that they had believed in. Could they start again?
For us as individuals, and as a Church, Lent brings us to that same question. Can we start again, despite our repeated sinfulness and the widespread havoc that sin continues to wreak in the world around us?
If we look only to ourselves then humility demands that we must confess that alone we cannot begin again. Such a confession brings us to a deeper appreciation of the prophet’s words. The Lord intends to raise us from that inner grave that is ourselves, that cannot break free from a sinful past, that cannot begin again. It is the Lord, and he alone, who gives us new life. “I shall put my spirit within you, and you will live, it is the Lord who speaks.”
For us the struggle is not over, but we go forward with the assurance so confidently proclaimed to the church in Rome by Saint Paul. We begin again as those already brought to life in the power of the Resurrection “Though your body may dead, it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself, and he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.”
We are far from perfect, but whatever lies in the future, we constantly begin again in the presence of Our Risen Lord.
Today St John’s Gospel records our Lord’s last visit to Bethany as he journeyed towards Jerusalem, to his approaching death. He wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. To the faith of a grieving sister, Jesus asked but one question. “If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
Martha replied that she believed. It was in this faith that Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. In the same faith he went forward to face his own death in Jerusalem. In this faith we begin again.