Jeremiah tells the people that the Lord will make a new covenant with them, planting the law within their hearts.
A prayer for God’s mercy and forgiveness
Through his sufferings, Jesus gained salvation for all who obey him.
Jesus teaches his disciples about the way in which he will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John. We are reading much further into John’s Gospel than we have for the past two weeks. Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel is a preparation for the beginning of the passion narrative to follow. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead—an important sign in John’s Gospel, which inspired many people to believe in Jesus. This event also marks the turning point in Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities. John’s Gospel tells us that the Sanhedrin met after this event and made plans to kill Jesus. In the 12th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is anointed at Bethany and enters Jerusalem in triumph. We again see evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus to this event; John reports that the crowds also gathered to see Lazarus.
Following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted his suffering, death, and Resurrection and prepared his disciples to believe in the salvation that his death would accomplish. Using the metaphor of the grain of wheat, Jesus presented the idea that his dying would be beneficial. He also taught that those who would be his disciples must follow his example of sacrifice. This theme will be repeated in John’s account of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an example of how they must serve one another.
The final section of today’s Gospel might be read as John’s parallel to the agony in the garden. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John does not record Jesus’ anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest. Although comparable words are found in today’s reading, Jesus gives a confident response to the question he raises when asking God to save him from his impending death. After announcing his conviction that it is for this purpose that he came, a voice from heaven speaks, as if in answer to Jesus’ prayer. This voice, like the one heard at Jesus’ baptism and at Jesus’ Transfiguration—events reported in the Synoptic Gospels but not in John’s Gospel—affirms that God welcomes the sacrifice that Jesus will make on behalf of others. In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that this voice was sent for the sake of those who would believe in him.
In today’s Gospel, we also hear Jesus speak about the cosmic framework against which we are to understand his passion, death, and Resurrection. Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, the ruler of this world. In this way the world is judged, but the judgment is not condemnation. Instead, through Jesus’ dying and rising, salvation is brought to the world. – loyolapress.org
RCIA SCRUTINY III
God will open the graves and restore the people of Israel.
With the Lord is forgiveness and mercy.
The Spirit of God dwells in you.
John 11:1-45 (shorter version John 11:3-7,17,20-27,33b-45)
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Our Gospel on this day, the fifth Sunday of Lent, is again taken from the Gospel according to John. The reading from John continues the break from Cycle A’s focus on the Gospel of Matthew. Today’s Gospel reading recounts another sign, or miracle, found in John’s Gospel, the raising of Lazarus. As our catechumens move closer to the celebration of their Baptisms at the Triduum, today’s reading invites us to reflect upon what it means to call Jesus the Resurrection and the life.
The context for the story of the raising of Lazarus is the Jewish leaders’ growing animosity toward Jesus. Jesus has been in Jerusalem, taking part in the feast of the Dedication, which we have come to know as Hanukkah. The people have been pressing him to declare plainly whether he is the Messiah. Jesus tells them to look to his works, which testify to his coming from God. Many do not believe Jesus, however, and some try to stone him for blasphemy.
Into this scene of confrontation, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, send word to Jesus that his friend is ill. Jesus is said to love Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but he delays his journey for two days. The delay heightens the drama and shows Jesus’ obedience to God, who is to be glorified through Lazarus’s resurrection. When Jesus finally declares that he will journey to Bethany, his disciples fear for his life. Thomas declares that he and the other disciples should prepare to die with Jesus.
The scene described at Bethany is a sad one. Martha meets Jesus weeping and saying that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died. Yet she remains confident that God will do whatever Jesus asks. Martha affirms her belief that there will be a resurrection of the dead in the last days. Then Martha’s sister, Mary, comes to Jesus with the same confidence, saying that Jesus could have cured Lazarus. Jesus asks to be brought to Lazarus’s tomb where he prays and calls Lazarus out from the tomb. At this sign, many come to believe in Jesus, but others take word of the miracle to the Jewish authorities, who begin their plans for Jesus’ death.
Set against the backdrop of Jesus’ impending death, many elements of the raising of Lazarus foreshadow the good news of Jesus’ own Resurrection. Jesus, facing the conflict with the Jewish authorities, acts in complete obedience to God. In raising Lazarus, Jesus shows his power over death so that when Jesus dies, those who believe in him might remember that and take hope. Just as Jesus calls for the stone to be rolled away from Lazarus’s tomb, so too will the disciples find the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb.
With our catechumens preparing for their Baptism at Easter, the Gospel today calls us to reflect on Baptism as a dying and rising with Jesus. In Baptism we die to sin’s power over us, rising as children of God. In Baptism we join ourselves with Christ, who conquered death once and for all so that we who believe in him may have eternal life. With Martha and Mary, we are called to profess our belief that Jesus is indeed the Resurrection and the life. – loyolapress.org