"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
Ezekiel was a priest and prophet who ministered to his fellow Jews during the Babylonian Captivity. As a prophet to the exiles he instilled hope that one day their long ordeal would be over and their nation would be restored. The first reading is from Ezekiel’s famous vision of the valley of dry bones. The “bones” represent the exiles who have no more hope of re-establishing the kingdom of Israel than dead, dry bones have of coming back to life. They cannot restore the nation by themselves, but God can.
In the context of this week’s Gospel it prefigures the raising of Lazarus. In the second reading Paul links the resurrection of Christ to life in the Spirit. Just as the breath of God brought the dry bones back to life, so the Holy Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies, even while we are still “in the flesh.” The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead gives new life to us through baptism.
In John’s Gospel Jesus’ miracles are called “signs” because their main purpose is to reveal his divinity. The raising of Lazarus, which took place a week before Passover, is the seventh and last sign before Jesus’ death and resurrection: the definitive proof of his divinity. Jesus weeps at the death of Lazarus not just because they were dear friends.
The Lord grieves over sin, which has brought death to the whole human race. He goes to his death as the one who is the “resurrection and the life.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Pope Benedict XVI:
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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