Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Fifth Sunday of Lent
predmore.blogspot.com
April 2, 2017
Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

            In a final decisive act during his ministry, Jesus exerts command over death, the final tyrant, and his raising of Lazarus from the dead gives his disciples a chance to marvel at the possibilities of Resurrection. Jesus makes it clear that Lazarus dies because the body decomposes by the fourth day. Jesus did not heal Lazarus or revive him. Lazarus was not sleeping or in a coma from a medical condition. Lazarus was dead, and his body stunk. Jesus was able to reveal the power of God as one who has authority not only over life, but also over death.

            The idea of the resurrection is the basis for our belief that we will overcome death and rise again in Christ. Saint Paul says Christ’s resurrection transforms our lives today, empowering us to reject sin and to live in righteousness. This allows us, every time we gather, to see the death of Jesus as a positive because we will rise with him in a new life.

            The most moving part of this whole passage is when Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus and weeps. He knows his own death is near; the time of his handing-over will happen in Jerusalem at the Passover, and yet, he is visibly affected by his friend’s death. In his prayer, he begs God to raise Lazarus from the dead, not only because it will bring God glory, but because Lazarus means a lot of him. The compassion of God takes center stage here. God is sympathetic to the emotions of Jesus, and God knows that soon, because of his great love, he will raise Jesus from the dead.

            Something inside me dies when I hear of someone’s death because death just is not fair. In fact, it is perplexing. I wonder if the dying knows of God’s personal love for them while they are alive. That is what I want most of all. I wonder if they can soak in the love that is around them because all too often there is too much ambiguity and unresolved relationships. Many people watch loved ones die, and there is not a chance to reconcile past hurts. We try to speak well of the dead, but we always do not have the happiest memories, and yet our charity rises to the surface. Death is seldom easy, even for the aged person whose life is full of integrity. We, as church, can do better to console those who find themselves alone after a loved one’s death as they struggle to reorganize daily schedules and maintain friendships. Death is confusing. Death is chaotic. Death even makes Jesus cry. He knows that Lazarus will die again.

            Physical death is sad, and a living death is tragic. By living death, I mean those times when we kill the spirit of another person, for instance, when we displace people because of war, tell a young girl she cannot do something she believes she can do, limit a person’s potential because we do not want them to succeed at someone else’s expense, or we send them away because they are different from us. Bullying, intimidation, exclusion, force, violence, and anger are many ways we kill another person. It is perhaps more tragic than physical death. No. This is not what God wants. This is a God of life, a God who can bring new life from death. Let us not get in the way of this good God. Instead, let us help God by resurrecting the broken spirits of those around us.

            Ezekiel says, “I will open your graves and have your rise from them. O my people. I will put my spirit in you that you may live. I have promised and I will do it.”

            What death in your soul needs new life? We all have disappointments, failures, betrayals, shame, and hurt that need to be healed. I suggest we name these areas: Lazarus. Let us hear the words of Jesus as he pours his heart and soul in prayer to God and he cries out: Lazarus, come out. Untie him and let him go.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 13) Daniel’s sharp advocacy skills spare the life of Susannah who has been unjustly accused of immoral sexual relationships.
Tuesday: (Numbers 21) As the wandering Israelites passed through the desert near the Red Sea, many are bitten by seraph serpents, but Moses erected a bronze serpent that he lifted up for those bitten to gaze upon the image and be cured.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 7) Annunciation: Ahaz is tempted by the Lord to ask for a sign but he will not. The Lord gives it anyways: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son named Emmanuel.
Thursday: (Genesis 17) The Lord said to Abraham: You are to become the father of a host of nations. You will become fertile; kings will stem from you.  
Friday: (Jeremiah 20) Terror on every side. Let us denounce him. The Lord is with me like a mighty champion.
Saturday: (Ezekiel 37) My dwelling shall be with my people. I will be their God and they shall be my people.  

Gospel: 
Monday: (John 8) A woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus for a verdict, but he does not answer as he calls upon those who are without sin to cast the first stone.
Tuesday: (John 8) Jesus tells the Pharisees that they will lift up the Son of Man and will then realized that I AM.
Wednesday: (Luke 1) Gabriel was sent to Mary of Nazareth to inform her that she has been chosen by the Lord to bear a son who will be called holy, the Son of God.
Thursday: (John 8) Whoever keeps my words will never see death. Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.
Friday: (John 10) The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus, but he wanted to know for which of the works he was condemned. He went back across the Jordan and remained there.
Saturday: (John 11) Many came to believe in Jesus. Caiaphas asked, “do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people?”

Saints of the Week

No saints are included in the calendar this week as it is often Holy Week or Easter Week.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 2, 1767. Charles III ordered the arrest of all the Jesuits in Spain and the confiscation of all their property.
·      Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.
·      Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.
·      Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
·      Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society.
·      Apr 7, 1541. Ignatius was unanimously elected general, but he declined to accept the results.
·      Apr 8, 1762. The French Parliament issued a decree of expulsion of the Jesuits from all their colleges and houses.
·      Apr 9, 1615. The death of William Weston, minister to persecuted Catholics in England and later an author who wrote about his interior life during that period.
·      Apr 10, 1585. At Rome, the death of Pope Gregory XIII, founder of the Gregorian University and the German College, whose memory will ever be cherished as that of one of the Society's greatest benefactors.

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·      Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.