5th Sunday of Lent, March 29, 2020

Scriptures and links (at bottom) offered by Mike Kamenski

(readings from U.S. Bishops’ website:  www.usccb.org  – click on the date on the calendar)

Fifth Sunday of Lent
Reading 1  EZ 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  PS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8.

  1. (7) 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.
    R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
    If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
    LORD, who can stand?
    But with you is forgiveness,
    that you may be revered.
    R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
    I trust in the LORD;
    my soul trusts in his word.
    More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
    let Israel wait for the LORD.
    R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
    For with the LORD is kindness
    and with him is plenteous redemption;
    And he will redeem Israel
    from all their iniquities.
    R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Reading 2  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.

Verse Before The Gospel  JN 11:25A, 26

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will never die.

Gospel  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 Christ, 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.

**

  1. Please view this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4l-OAIP_xM

“God Shall Wipe Away All Tears”  [Rev 21: 4]

(starting at 7:02 minutes into this excepted recording)

This is the final movement from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man. The multimovement work is for full chorus, 7 soloists and full symphony orchestra and is dedicated to world peace. This conclusion begins with a quote from Tennyson’s Ring Our, Wild Bells and ends with the Revelation verse found 7 minutes into this recording. Again, as with last week’s recording, this is a youth choir, this time performing with full orchestra. You may recognize these last couple minutes because our own St. Sebastian Choir has sung “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears” at mass. We had prepared this piece for this season. If you did not know, our choir has recorded this entire hour-long work with the Menomonee Falls Symphony which I conducted in the Basilica of St. Josaphat.  CDs are available for purchase by contacting me.

  1. Please view this link from one of my favorite authors: Richard Rohr:

https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/lent-with-richard-rohr-what-is-life-and-what-is-death

This reflection is specifically designed for this Sunday’s liturgy. Enjoy!

  1. Reflection on Lent 5 – John 11: 1-45 (Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead)
[excerpted from a recent presentation at Cardinal Stritch by Mike Kamenski on Sacramental Theology (specifically regarding a deeper understanding of Baptism) and adapted for Lent V]

“Life and Death / Death and Life”

Have we considered the order of this common phrase? We speak of some of our experiences as “life and death” and we often view our existence in terms of “life… and… death”. From a Christian perspective, the opposite would be more appropriate: we attempt to learn, here and now, how to die to that which is not “of God” so that we might rise (have life) to that which is of Christ – Death and Life.

We certainly will face the “big” death/life transformation when we meet our Maker. But have we considered the countless times, even daily, that we can encounter Christ as we die to that which is not “of God” and rise to that which is “of Christ”?

This is what the church celebrates at every mass: the Paschal Mystery – the suffering, death and rising of Christ. This is what the church celebrates within every liturgical year’s sequence of seasons. In a couple weeks we will contemplate Christ’s suffering and death, and then, his glorious resurrection to new life. We must certainly contemplate this as it is one of the key tenets of our faith. But our contemplation is not complete if we do not include our own entrance into this Paschal Mystery.

The sacraments are visible signs of God’s active presence in our lives and of our participation with God’s active presence. Sacraments are not magic, they are not made of a moment. Consider “the moment” of Baptism. At what moment is a person “baptized”? We should not speak of a “moment” but of a process. As baptized Christians, we are called to give witness to, to live, our Baptismal calling. This involves a lifetime of choices and of deaths and rebirths.

The sacrament of baptism uses several symbols: water, oil, white garment and the Paschal Candle – the Light of Christ. To open up one of these – water – we ask, What does water symbolize? The responses I get are “healing, cleansing, life sustenance” and so on. These are all true and are part of the church’s symbolic intentions. But most people miss the flip side of this symbol: death. Water destroys, it kills. This, too, is part of the church’s symbolic intention. Frankly, full immersion is the preferred manner of baptizing, where the church’s minister places the head of the person to be baptized under the water, and not once, but three times (as the Trinitarian formula is prayed). As we witness this, we are to feel uncomfortable – shocked; it appears as though this person will drown! Exactly! Baptism IS a death, a death to our old self of sin AND a rising to new life in Christ. We love the idea of resurrection! What about the death which necessarily precedes the resurrected transformation?

Question: To what are you being called to die? What Light do you require to illuminate where Darkness looms in your life? How can the Spirit of God give you courage to seek, face and then die to that which is “not of God” in your life? What do you need to prepare you for the suffering and desert experience it will take to face this Darkness? How can your family help, your church, the bible, professional guidance? Living a baptismal calling daily is to be open to facing that to which we must die. Jesus modeled this Paschal Mystery for us. We are invited into his and our Paschal Mystery. These two are united in the celebration of the mass for which we long to return as a Christian community.

Question: To what are you being called to rise? For what have you been created? Answer: “sainthood”. We all would say “not me”! Not true. What if….. in fact… you have been created to be a most unique source of God’s Light in this world of Darkness? What if the “best version of yourself”, once freed from the ball and chain of Darkness through your death to evil, is what the world most needs and what you are eminently capable of offering? Some say to me “My spouse” (my friend, my family…) would not recognize me! I can’t do that!” You may be correct that some adjusting might be needed, but wouldn’t that all be for the better?!?

Lazarus died and was brought back to life by his friend Jesus. Jesus is the source of new life, and not just temporal life here on earth, but eternal life in the kingdom for which we are all destined. Can we not all, here and now, attempt to live out our baptismal calling, our Paschal Mystery, to die to Darkness and rise to the Kingdom here and now? Our mass is the foretaste of the Eternal Banquet, a time (for that brief hour) where heaven and earth join in heavenly accord with one voice praising God in heaven. Heaven and earth “are joined”! Did you know that is what is happening at mass? Did you know that is what our lives are to be about?

So, back to life and death, death and life. As Lazarus was given new life after his death, may we daily die to self and rise to Christ, allowing our Light to cast out the Darkness of the world, giving hope to all in need. Death…. and…. Life!

If you’d like, please share your thoughts or questions in the space below.

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