Prepare for Sunday Mass: 'Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die'

Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

“As it comes closer to the Passion of Jesus,” observed Father Hans Ur von Balthasar about today’s readings, “Lent raises the penitent sinner’s hope to unmeasurable levels.” Each of the readings today speak directly about rising from the dead. Thus, as we move toward Holy Week and the pain and darkness of Christ’s sufferings, we are buoyed by the knowledge that, as the Lord told Martha, “everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

The reading from Ezekiel is the conclusion of the prophet’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ez 37:1-11). “The hand of the Lord came upon me,” wrote Ezekiel, “and he led me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones.” The bones represent the exiled Israelites, languishing in Babylon, severed from their land and former lives. Worse, they are in need of spiritual rebirth. And so the prophet proclaims a re-creation, with a reference back to the creation story: “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life” (Ez 37:4-5; cf. Gn 2:7). The word of God opens the way for spirit and life.

The opening of John’s Gospel also focuses on the saving word of God: “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race ...” (Jn 1:3-4). This sets the theological stage for the last great sign performed by Jesus: the raising of Lazarus from the grave. It was an act resonating with great love — for Lazarus, for Martha and Mary, for the fallen human race — as well as tremendous sorrow, even anguish. This is evident in the shortest verse in the Bible: “And Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35). The description immediately prior is even stronger, for upon seeing Mary and the others weeping, Jesus “became perturbed and deeply troubled ...” (v. 33).

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.