March 29, 2020 - 5th Sunday in Lent

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

Ezekiel was a prophet during the exile in Babylon; his tasks ranged from chastising and correcting to comforting and offering hope. His prophecies begin with divine judgment and end with consolation. Ezekiel paves the way for the extension of the Covenant to the Gentiles by expanding the Jewish conception of God’s providence to extend it into all nations. The Psalm reminds us the Lord is kindness and with him is plenteous (bountiful) redemptions/forgiveness for our sins. In Romans Paul tells us “those who live in the flesh do not belong to Christ, and are dead because of sin. Flesh is good in that it has its origin in God, and is still further given dignity when our flesh is assumed by Christ. Paul’s purpose is to motivate the Christians in Rome to shun life according to the flesh, and to live in communion with the spirit of God. Paul is not making a distinction between body and soul in which the body is evil and soul is good. He’s making a distinction between life with Christ versus life without Christ. The lesson in John is that we are often like Lazarus. We have areas in our lives that are dead and need to be enlivened again by Christ. But we also may be bound either by our own sins or by the hurts others have inflicted on us. We carry great burdens or worries or dysfunctional patterns of relating to others that bind us down and keep us from peace and happiness. Jesus wants to free us from those wounds; he wants us, like Lazarus, to be unbound. He wants our better selves to step forward as he says to each of us, “Come out.” In no other episode in the Gospel story is Jesus shown so clearly for what he is: the resurrection and the life. There’s no halfway in John’s Gospel. Once can walk in darkness or light, one is blind or sighted, one is alive or dead; no middle ground exists.