Do you believe?
April 6th, 2014 (see other dates)
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Not many of us feel fully alive all of the time. We all have our "down days," our times of illness and unrest, our times of anxiety and pain. We do not always feel "on top of the world." However, these are the times to remember that Christ has won a victory for us that has nothing to do with how we feel on any given day. We have been given that victory on the day of Baptism. It is a victory of God's love. We were taken into God's family. How can you remember that victory in Christ on "down days"? How can you get in touch with the victorious Christ whose Spirit lives within you? How can you share that Spirit and that victory with others? How can you care for yourself, spiritually, mentally, and physically, today, so that you will be more ready to live fully in Christ tomorrow?
Reading 1 Ezekiel 37:12-14
Reading 1 ReflectionEzekiel was called by God to be a prophet during the exile of the Israelites in Babylon. They took comfort in his vision of resurrection, a prediction of the restoration of their homeland. God would raise them from their graves of despair to new life.
The graves of the dead that we hear about in Ezekiel are not Israelites only; they are all of us who are in some way dead, not living fully enough the life of Christ, and in need of redemption.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Our society does not like to think about the reality of death. And it is not wrong to hope to live a long time, as life is a gift of God. However, we must remember that God's gifts do not end when life ends for us here on earth. How does this reading comfort those who are mourning a death of a family member or friend? How does it comfort you when you think about death? In what ways can you show that you are truly alive in Christ during this coming week?
Reading 2 Romans 8:8-11
Reading 2 ReflectionWe have the promise of eternal life from God. Even if our bodies die, we will not become a lifeless pile of dry bones. God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us. The Spirit remains alive in us forever because we belong to Christ.
Discussion Questions for GospelThis story is seen as a foretaste of the resurrection of Jesus, and of our own resurrection, too. During the weeks of Lent, we are preparing to celebrate resurrection. Do you see any "foretastes of resurrection joy" around you? In nature? In the love of your family and friends? In the care and concern of neighbors? In your own heart? If you do, you will be following in the footsteps of Jesus and all the saints.
These signs of resurrection may not be as dramatic as Lazarus' rising from the dead, but they are just as real. How many do you experience? Keep looking for them this week!
Gospel ReflectionThose of us who have lost a beloved family member or friend know how Martha and Mary must have felt. Their brother Lazarus died. And Jesus did not protect them from the pain of mourning. In fact, Jesus wept, too, and was deeply troubled. But death is never the end of the story for Jesus or those who believe in him.
"I am the resurrection and the life," Jesus tells Martha. At Jesus' command, Lazarus, all bound up in burial wrappings, slowly emerges from the tomb. What a scene that must have been! And what a promise to us!
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Gift of the Holy SpiritExplain to the children that, in today's letter from Saint Paul, he tells us about the wonderful gift we received at Baptism. We received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is with us today and everyday to help us and to guide us.
On a separate sheet of paper, draw a way that the Holy Spirit helps you.
Jesus, Our Friend and SaviorIn today's gospel story, we read about Jesus and some of his friends. We read about something very special that Jesus did for them. Remind the children that Jesus is our friend. He has done many wonderful things for us, too.
Print out the poem about Jesus, our friend, and read it together. Have the children work with a partner to add more stanzas to the poem. Have the children decorate a border around the poem. Remind them to share this poem with their friends and family.
Jesus, Our Friend
Jesus, we are your friends. Your love for us never ends.
You have done so much for us.
In you we place our trust.
We promise to try to share,
Your great love and your loving care.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Weaving a Gospel PrayerThe story of the raising of Lazarus can be a great comfort for those who are mourning the death of a loved one. Choose several of the gospel lines below. Then weave them together into a message or prayer.
"Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life."
A Prayer in Mourning for __________________ .
Jesus, your friend _______________ has died.
Help his/her loved ones to know that you loved __________________ just as much as you loved Lazarus.
"See how much he loved him!"
Help them to believe your promise that, "Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life." Lord, we do believe that you are the resurrection and the life. Amen.
Is there someone who needs a prayer like this right now? If so, make a copy of your prayer and send it to him or her. Remember, even though a loved one has died some time ago, that person is still missed. Therefore also try to think of people who are mourning for their loved ones even though those people died some time ago. They will be grateful that you remembered their loss and their loved one.
Life Here and NowAs Catholics we believe in eternal life and that our share in eternal life begins at Baptism. This is why our life on earth is precious and important, too. Write a note to someone who needs to hear that life is full of meaning, for example, write to someone who is going through a difficult time right now.
Hint: You might like to draw a large shamrock on a piece of paper and write your message of life in the shamrock. According to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Trinity. We are brought into the life of the Trinity at Baptism. This is the reason we can live life fully and look forward to eternal life with God.
Life seems hard and not very meaningful to you right now. But I am praying for you so that you will know how much God loves you and wants to lift up your spirits. May you be strengthened by the Spirit of God living in you!
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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