Welcoming the Holy

Here we invite you to take time for yourself in personal prayer. The following spiritual reflection offers words and images which we hope will evoke for you an experience of God. 


 
Fifth Sunday in Lent

Prayer

Lord, God of all Creation, Your Son Jesus, the Christ, is the resurrection and the life. In Him we trust that eternal life will be ours. We pray in faith this day,that You send Your Spirit upon us as we shelter in the "tomb" of our home, trusting that "this illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God." In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

 

Reading   

John 11:3 - 44

The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." On hearing this Jesus said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God." After two days in the place where he was, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." "But," replied the disciples, "the Jews were just trying to stone You there." When Jesus arrived, he found Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Martha said to him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." Jesus said to Martha, "Your brother will rise." "I know he will," said Martha, "at the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," said Martha...

So they went to the tomb, "Take away the stone," said Jesus. "Lord," said Martha, "he has been dead for four days!" "Did I not tell you, if you believe you will see the glory of God," said Jesus. So they rolled away the stone. Raising his eyes to the Father, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus come out." The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands and his face wrapped in a cloth. "Untie him and let him go," Jesus said to them. And seeing what he had done, many began to believe in him.

 

Reflection

John tells us this story of Jesus bringing his friend Lazarus back from the tomb, back from death. The Church places this story in the Liturgical cycle of readings just days before Easter, when God raises Jesus, His Son, from the dead. Resurrection is the core belief of Christian Faith. St. Paul says, "if Jesus is not raised from the dead our faith is in vain." So the story asks us, as Jesus asked Martha, "Do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life?" The story acts as a sign pointing not only to Jesus' own death and resurrection but also to Jesus as the one who brings life to a world bound by sin and death. Jesus' offer is profound not only to the culture of his day, but to ours as well. Do we not live a culture marked by violence and death? 

We find death everywhere and in all forms...physical, spiritual, emotional, cultural, moral, social. We just have to watch the news. In raising Lazarus to life, Jesus is making a radical statement. He knows our bondage. He knows our suffering. He knows our struggle to believe in life. So he raises Lazarus from death not merely to bring Mary and Martha comfort but to offer us hope. Jesus offers us the gift of life...if only we believe. Belief in the Resurrection is the most dangerous thing about being a Christian, because Resurrection is to be lived now. We are to do Resurrection now. We are to be life-giving now, for if you are not raising people from the dead, then you are sealing them up in tombs. WHERE DO YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THIS STORY? Am I Lazarus in the tomb needing new life...am I the disciples afraid to take a chance by going to Bethany...am I Martha ready to declare my belief in Jesus...am I the friends and neighbors coming to believe because of what I have seen and heard...am I Jesus bringing new life? Catherine of Siena recounted the words God spoke to her: "The service you cannot render me, you must do for your neighbor." As hard as being in the "tomb" of home day after day may be, perhaps the greatest service we offer our neighbors today is staying home!

 

Closing prayer

Ever Living and Caring God, we come to You in this time of suffering and pain, seeking the tender assurance of Your life-giving grace. Grant to us a spirit of hope and generosity as we await the fullness of life. Believing in the Resurrection, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Sisters of Saint Joseph of Rochester

Sisters of Saint Joseph of
Rochester Motherhouse
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Rochester, NY 14618

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