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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
1st Reading (Ezek 37:12-14): Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, o my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm: 129
R/. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, o Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.

If you, o Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.

I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord.

For with the Lord is kindness and with him is plenteous redemption; and he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.
2nd Reading (Rom 8:8-11): Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 11:25-26): Yo soy la resurrección y la vida, dice el Señor; el que cree en mí no morirá jamás.
Gospel text (Jn 11:1-45): Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.

So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

“I am the resurrection”

Fr. Johannes VILAR (Köln, Germany)

Today, the Church presents us with a great miracle: Jesus raises a deceased man, who had been dead for several days.

The resurrection of Lazarus is similar to that of Christ, which we will commemorate soon. Jesus tells Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (cf. Jn 11:25). He asks all of us: "Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:26). Do we believe that in baptism God has given us a new life? Saint Paul says that we are a new creation (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). This resurrection is the foundation of our hope, which is based not on a future, uncertain, and false utopia, but on a fact: "The Lord has truly been raised" (Lk 24:34).

Jesus commands, "Untie him and let him go" (Jn 11:44). Redemption has freed us from the chains of sin, which we all suffered from. Pope Leo the Great said: "Errors were overcome, powers subdued, and the world gained a new beginning. For if we suffer with Him, we will also glorified with Him (cf. Rom 8:17). This gain is not only prepared for those who, in the name of the Lord, are crushed by the godless. For all those who serve God and live in Him are crucified in Christ, and in Christ they will win the crown."

As Christians, we are called, even on this earth, to live this new supernatural life that makes us capable of bearing witness to our fate: always ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope! (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). It is logical that in these days we try to follow Jesus the Teacher closely. Traditions such as the Way of the Cross, the meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, the texts of the Gospels... everything can and should be a help to us.

Our hope is also placed in Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and our Mother, who is also an icon of hope: at the foot of the Cross, she waited against all hope and was associated with the work of her Son.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “But the confession you make is effected by God, when He cries with a loud voice, or in other words, calls you in abounding grace. Accordingly, when the dead man had come forth, still bound; confessing, yet guilty still; that his sins also might be taken away, the Lord said to His servants: ‘Loose him, and let him go’. What does He mean by such words? What soever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Saint Augustine)

  • “Christ is not resigned to the tombs that we have built for ourselves with our choice for evil and death, with our errors, with out sins. He invites us to come out of the tomb: ‘Come out!’, he says to us. It is an invitation to true freedom.” (Francis)

  • “The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 1445)