OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

The Gospel of the Fifth Sunday is perhaps the deepest meditation on the mystery of Baptism and membership of the Church. It is a prelude to the events of Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the triumph of life over death. To be plunged into the waters of baptism is to be buried with Christ, only to rise with him from the waters. This paradox of life and death is the content of today’s readings. There is no more important part of our faith that the resurrection: that Christ rose from the dead is the very centre and heart of all that we believe - without it, our faith is useless. In the same way our belief in our own resurrection is vital: it is the most deeply needed gift that Christ gives us. This is why the climax of the instructions given to candidates for Baptism was this teaching: that Christ would give them life after death. Look ahead to the 3rd Sunday of Easter, where Saint Peter preaches to the crowds – what he teaches them is that life comes after death, as it did for Lazarus, and for Christ himself.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14.
 
When the Lord says ‘I am going to open your graves’ these words really are addressed to us, no matter how chilling they may sound. This is the promise of the resurrection we will explore in Easter - that just as Jesus died and rose again, so - because we are baptised in him - we will die and rise again. This is the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body which we proclaim in the creed. So in reading, do not stumble over those words of God: allow them to ring out confidently each time they occur. The promise of life from the grave is our greatest Christian hope. Also, a confident proclamation of this reading will open hearts to the dramatic message of the Gospel.
 
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11.
 
Saint Paul adds to Ezekiel’s prophecy by telling us that it is the Holy Spirit (given in Baptism) that guarantees this rising. Again, as we have seen throughout these Sundays, Paul is using contrasts: spiritual-unspiritual, life-death: bring these out in the reading. As with all these ‘contrast’ readings, take your time: allow one half of the contrast to sink in before you go on to the other: for example: “Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual /pause/ but in the spiritual...” Remember that when you use the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ it speaks to the congregation in front of you. This is God’s living and active word being proclaimed and talking to us here and now. If possible, be confident enough to look at the listeners when using the word ‘you’.

From the Catechism

The progressive revelation of resurrection
CCC 992-996

Raisings a messianic sign prefiguring Christ’s Resurrection
CCC 549, 640, 646

The prayer of Jesus before the raising of Lazarus
CCC 2603-2604

Our present experience of resurrection
CCC 1002-1004

The Eucharist and the Resurrection
CCC 1402-1405, 1524

The resurrection of the body
CCC 989-990

CCC 988 - 991
The Christian Creed - the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action - culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting.
We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again.
Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. "The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live."
"How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."

Gospel Wordsearch