The Season of Lent is approaching its close and we are on the last of the trifecta of lengthy Gospel Readings from St. John in the Liturgical “Year A”. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday which will usher us into Holy Week, and as we draw closer to Easter, we find the Readings revolving around the theme of Death, Resurrection and Life.
The First Reading, taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, is God’s own interpretation of the “Dry Bones” vision; shown to the Prophet where Ezekiel was instructed to prophesy life to the vast army of dry bones which received restoration of flesh and came to life as soon as the Prophet did as he was instructed. Here (in the First Reading), God reveals to the Prophet the meaning of the preceding vision. God was going to terminate Israel’s hopelessness in exile and effect a restoration that would see Israel returned to her ancestral habitat. Israel’s exile is interpreted as some kind of death, so real that all that is left of her is a mass of disjointed skeletons. Through the power of God’s Word, God’s Spirit will resuscitate and restore Israel to her pre-exilic state where she enjoyed liberty on her own land. Through this, Israel shall know that God is the Lord.
In the Gospel passage, Jesus restored His friend Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, to life after he had spent four days buried in the tomb. By doing this, Jesus’ Divinity was made visible and many believed in Him. St. John reports that after assuring Martha and Mary that their brother would rise, and after declaring that He is the Resurrection and Life, Jesus approached the tomb and asked the sympathizers to “take away the stone.” They eventually did and, after saying a prayer of thanksgiving, Jesus called Lazarus to come out. The man who had died and had been buried for four days emerged from the tomb alive and Jesus directed the onlookers to “untie him and let him go.’’ It is instructive that Jesus allowed the active participation of the sympathizers in the restoration of Lazurus to demonstrate that God is able and willing to restore us to life if we are willing to do what we can and need to do first. We should be prepared to remove the obstacles that stand between us and the desirable life in the Spirit with Jesus if we truly want to be restored to righteousness. God requires of us the willingness to do what is in our power to do, so that He can do in our lives that which only He can do. For instance, if we want to be Holy, we should be willing to acknowledge our sins, renounce and confess them, and resolve to sin no more. Then God will grant forgiveness, have us reconciled to Himself, and restore us to righteousness. Again, like Lazurus, we come into and sometimes live in the world dead in the Spirit. Everyone needs Jesus, through the Holy Sacraments, to call us out of spiritual death into life in the Spirit with Christ. This is what our Catechumens are on the verge of receiving. This is what St. Paul reassures us in his Letter to the Romans when he says, “but if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
May the Lord continue to restore spiritual life to us through the Holy Sacraments and may we be aided by Grace to remove every obstacle that clogs the wheel of our determined march towards heaven.
Please be kind and may God bless you.
Fr. ManassehBACK TO LIST