Fifth Sunday of Lent

Readings:  Ez 37:12-14;  Rom 8:8-11;  Jn 11:1-45

             The readings for this Sunday (and the previous Sundays of Lent, Year A) are seen by the Church as so important that, chosen in its very early days, they have remained unchanged through the centuries.  In looking at traditions and practices, especially liturgical, I find it can be enlightening and enriching to see what their original meaning was. Lent was originally the period when catechumens completed their preparation for baptism at Easter.  Since they were joined on their journey by the local christian community, it was a time of renewal for all, deepening their understanding, faith and commitment.  Perhaps a very appropriate practice for Lent might be to reflect and deepen our understanding of what it really means to be a christian.

            The readings for the third and fourth Sundays present the action of the Spirit in our lives in images and metaphors of water (the woman at the well), light (the man born blind), this week’s readings are full of LIFE.  Taking all three readings – or even the gospel alone – it is clear that the focus is not on the resuscitation of Lazarus, but on a quite different life – the Spirit of the living God living in us as our life..

Ezechiel: ‘ I shall put my spirit in you and you will live.’ Paul: ‘The Spirit of God has made his home in you.  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 the Spirit living in you’.  The core and climax of the readings must be Jesus’ statement: ‘I am the

Resurrection and the Life’. Then Paul’s ‘If Christ (the Resurrection and the Life) is in you, then your spirit is life itself’.  And, of course, ‘life’ cannot die. How amazing!   What inspiring Good News this was for the catechumens, and is for us.

            What does it really mean to be a christian?   For sure it does not primarily mean believing certain doctrines and dogmas, and obeying given laws and rules.  Perhaps essentially it means: knowing, accepting, acknowledging, rejoicing in and responding to the presence of the Christ Spirit living within us – and trying to live accordingly.

Sr. Genevieve Mooney OP 

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