Psalms in the Lectionary
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5th Sunday of Lent Cycle A 2017

Psalms in the Lectionary
5th Sunday of Lent  Cycle A   4/2/2017
Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130:1-8; Romans 8:8-11; 
John 11:1-45
Psalm 130 is a prayer for deliverance from personal trouble; it is a lament begging God to be merciful to us, his sinners.  It is also a psalm of trust, that we believe God will come to our rescue to help us.  Earlier in the season, we were called to be holy AS God is holy, to be perfect AS God is perfect; to be merciful AS God is merciful.  As a homilist recently related, “to be merciful” means to enter into the chaos of someone else’s life.  God is so willing to enter into our chaos this Lent, to be merciful to us, we who are so weighed down with our sins.   We are in the fifth week of Lent this weekend and as we get closer to Holy Week, we may need to assess how our Lenten journey has gone thus far.  Have we dug a little deeper? Have we identified those areas that need to be excised from our lives? that need to be confessed and forgiven? that need to be built up to equip us to enter into the chaos of our neighbor’s lives?  Have we met our weaknesses?  St. Elizabeth of the Trinity tells us that if we can identify our weaknesses, then we should ask Christ to meet us there.  He is, in fact, attracked to our weaknesses, for he can heal us there.  The readings this weekend are about our end times, and the power of God to heal all our weaknesses, especially those that take over lives.  The first reading from Ezekiel speaks of God’s power to release us from the grave.  Paul’s letter to the Romans confirms for Christians that we are alive in Christ, even if our bodies are dead, because the Spirit is alive in righteousness.  The Gospel from John is the story of the raising from the dead Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary.  As we move closer and closer to Easter, God is preparing us for more and more life.  We are being readied to celebrate the magnificent miracle of the Resurrection by reflecting on our own life and death and life again.  The refrain from this week’s psalm beautifully sums it up: redemption is near and God is willing to show us mercy and to enter into the chaos of our lives to get us there.  Praise God!!    
The refrain is taken from verse seven of the psalm: 
 “With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.”
verses 1-2:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
verses 3-4:
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you in forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
verses 5-6:
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the LORD.
verses 7-8:
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
and he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
Today’s first reading from Ezekiel (37:12-14) is a proclamation by the Lord that He will open the graves of the dead and have the people of Israel rise from them; God has promised to do so and God will do so.
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 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.
The Gospel from John (11:1-45) is the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
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 (of Lazarus) sent word to Jesus 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 Lazarus 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 sad 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 think 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.
The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans (8:8-11) is one in which Paul urges us to stay faithful to the life of the Spirit, for it is the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us and leads us to more and more life.
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.
Psalm 130 is a beautiful psalm of first lament and then trust that God will answer all our needs.  It is a psalm of confidence as we move closer to the Easter mysteries.