5th Sunday of Lent – Reflection on Readings by Frank O’Dea SSS

5th Sunday of Lent - Reflection on Readings by Frank O'Dea SSS

Reflections on the Sunday Readings (Fifth Sunday of Lent)
Frank O’Dea SSS
[Ezekiel 37:122-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45]

The gospel today is a very significant one. It helps us to know who Jesus is, hence is very important for those preparing to be baptised at Easter.

We hear the story of the raising from the dead of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha and special friend of Jesus. Surprisingly, when Jesus hears of Lazarus’ sickness, he waits two days. He explains this is because the illness does not lead to death but “for God’s glory”. When he finally arrives, Jesus consoles Martha by saying her brother will rise again and adds “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die will live, and everyone who believes in me will never die.” This is one of several “I am” statements we find in John and is worth a lot of prayerful reflection.

Martha replies, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” More clues to the identity of Jesus. When he went to the cave, “Jesus was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.” And he wept. Jesus had a human nature with emotions just like all of us.

When Jesus asks for the stone to be removed from the cave, Martha says Lazarus has been dead four days and there is a stench. Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Jesus prays, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that you my believe that you sent me.”  Jesus always worked closely with his Father, never independently.

Then, with a loud voice, Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out. Lazarus came out from the cave alive and this led many to believe in Jesus. This gospel gives us a lot to reflect on about who Jesus is.

The first reading is a good introduction to the gospel. The Lord says, “I am going to open your graves, O my people … I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.”

In the second reading, Paul takes up the notion of the spirit, saying, “… you are in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you … but if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

In these horrendous Coronavirus times, we are in a dark cave with a stench. We must ask the Lord to bring us out of the cave, unbind us and set us free so that we can again live happy, healthy lives.

Frank O’Dea is a retired priest with the Blessed Sacrament Congregation in Melbourne.

SSS Monastery @ St Francis’ Melbourne