Before we know it, we will be reading the Passion of Jesus, recounting his death and then celebrating his resurrection at Easter. Just as Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem for the last time, making these events take place, he stopped at Lazarus’ house to ease the suffering of his friends, Martha and Mary, and to give hope to all of the apostles as their darkest time was approaching.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
I will put my spirit in you that you may live.
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.
“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Today’s readings hit on a tough topic. Death is a reality that touches all of us. But, it’s not the end, and today’s readings are all about God’s promise of new life in the resurrection. The Prophet Ezekiel says that God will open our graves and we will live–we call this the “resurrection of the body” which we say that we “look forward to” in the Creed.
The second reading tells us that as long as God’s Spirit is within us, we have life. This is true. While we live on earth, it’s the spirit of God that makes us feel alive, and when we die, it’s God’s Spirit that will raise us to live in heaven with God.
Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to be killed, when he hears that his friend Lazarus is going to die. He doesn’t go right away, because he is going to show his friends that death isn’t stronger than God. We see that when Jesus sees his friends Martha and Mary sad, he is sad, too. It’s important for us to know that our God cries with us when we’re sad. It’s also important to know that even when someone is taken from us here, we will be with them in heaven. God takes away the barriers (like the stone in front of the cave) that keep us apart from one another in death and brings us even closer together.
The people in Bethany felt that if Jesus could heal the blind man, he could do something (like raise the dead) to alleviate some of Mary and Martha’s suffering. Mary said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Suffering is a mystery for us; especially when we know that God can stop it. But, when we think about it, though Lazarus was raised from the dead, he would die again. God doesn’t love death–the book of Wisdom says that it’s not one of God’s creations. But, although we must suffer the grief of loss in our lives, God doesn’t let it go unanswered. God has the final say over death, and ultimately, death doesn’t win because we have eternal life.
Have you ever lost someone you loved–a pet, or a friend, or a family member? What helped you to feel better when you were sad? Do you know that Jesus cried with you?
Have you ever felt like the townspeople, or like Martha and Mary, who felt like God could or should have changed the outcome of a situation? It’s natural to feel that way. Did any good come out of the situation, even though it wasn’t what you had hoped for?
When Jesus came to raise Lazarus, he told the community to roll away the stone in front of the grave, and then to untie him from his burial garments. This is a sign for us that God means for us to help one another live life fully. We have the ability to help remove some of the things that keep people stuck. What are some ways that you can help people to roll away the stones that keep them from living fully? How can you help remove the things that bind others?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”