5th SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 13th March 2016

Theme: IN FAITH WE ARE BAPTISED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent. Next Sunday will be Passion or Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that will be Easter Sunday! Originally, Lent was a time of a few days when catechumens prepare for their Baptism on Easter Sunday! But today Lent is also a time for all of us, who have already been baptized, to prepare us to renew our Baptism on Easter Sunday! That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor!

The Church has chosen the 3 readings of today to tell us about Faith, Resurrection, the Holy Spirit, and Baptism! The gospel reading tells us about faith and resurrection and Baptism! The gospel tells us that the first profession of faith of Martha on the belief that Jesus can cure the sick and thus prevent the sick from dying, and on the resurrection of the dead on the last day, was not good enough! Martha had to make a second profession of faith, that is, to profess that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and that whoever believes in him, even though he dies he will live, and who ever lives and believes in him will never die! It was only after this second profession of faith of Martha that her brother Lazarus was raised from the dead!

The gospel tells us that when Martha met Jesus, she said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but even now, I believe that whatever you ask of God, he will grant you’. Jesus said to Martha, ‘your brother will rise again’. Martha answered Jesus, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day’. That was Martha’s first profession of faith!

Jesus asked Martha for a second profession of faith: ‘I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ And Martha responded by making her second profession of faith: ‘Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world’.

And Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and called out to Lazarus, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ And Lazarus who was dead for 4 days came out!

The Church has chosen the gospel of today to tell us that in order to be baptized or to renew our baptism, it is not enough to believe that Jesus can cure the sick and thus prevent the sick from dying, and it is not enough to believe in the resurrection of the dead on the last day, but in order to be baptized and to renew our baptism, we have to believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and that whoever believes in him, even though he dies because of his sins, he will live, and whoever lives and believes in him will never die because of his sins’!

Today the Church asks us this all-important question, ‘Do you believe this’? And we answer with Martha, ‘Yes, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world’! We make this profession of faith on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning and our catechumens will be baptized and we who have already been baptized will renew our baptism and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the New Life of Easter!

But there is more to the gospel of today! In the gospel of today, we see the irony of St. John the Evangelist, that is, in giving life to the dead Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44), Jesus the life-giver receives death from the Jewish leaders (Jn 11:45-54)! But again, irony of ironies, it is in his resurrection from the dead that he pours out his Holy Spirit onto us and raises us from the dead! In life he raised only Lazarus from the dead, but in death he raised all of us from the dead! In the gospel of St. John, the raising of Lazarus is the 7th Sign, the Last Sign, and the Climax Sign of our Resurrection from spiritual death in Baptism!

The first reading is from the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel prophesied in the 6th century BC (Before Christ) in Babylonia to the Exiles! But the Church has chosen the first reading to tell us that in Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will raise us to a new life!

“The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people,……… And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live,…..”! (Ezekiel 37:12-14)

Again, in the second reading from the letter to the Romans, St. Paul tells us, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you”.

Again, the Church has chosen this second reading from Romans to tell us that ‘the Spirit of the Father who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, and that the Father who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our dead bodies through his Spirit living in us’!

Again, in Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will forgive our sins and give life to our dead bodies!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor, to prepare for our Baptism, and for most of us who have already been baptized, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, to prepare for the renewal of our Baptism, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the New Life of Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you!

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Msgr Nicholas Ong DD View All →

Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.

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