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Reflections on forthcoming Mass readings by Tom and April Hoopes.
BY Tom & April Hoopes
Sunday, March 9, is the Fifth Sunday in Lent (Year A, Cycle
II). Today at 10 a.m., Pope Benedict XVI
will say Mass at the Church of St. Lawrence in Piscibus in Rome. The
International Youth Center, which the Knights of Columbus helped fund, is
The Pope is a little more than a month away from visiting
Washington, D.C., and New York, and World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, is
four months away. Find information and advance coverage at Pope2008.com, a
National Catholic Register website where Tim Drake is blogging about the visit.
Epriest.com offers best parish practices.
With Easter only two weeks away, many parishes will be
looking to plan spring events. St. Francis of Assisi in Bakersfield, Calif.,
wrote about the success it had with singer Gretchen Harris.
“The most e-mails that I have ever received about anything
in my parish were the e-mails I received after her [Gretchen Harris’] concert.
She moved a lot of people with the living testimony that she gives; you can
tell that it comes from her heart,” said Father Craig Harrison, St. Francis of
Assisi Pastor. “This is the type of person we need in parishes today.”
A concert by a Catholic singer could be a great way to attract
and inspire people who aren’t interested in usually in church events. More
information is available at the Epriest website.
If you meant to make it a practice to get to daily Mass
during Lent, but never did — or if you hadn’t made those plans at all — this
would be a good week to take the family to daily Mass. The readings this week
start out teaching about heaven then start preparing for Passion Sunday and
FamiliaUSA.net offers Next Sunday Ideas on its website.
We love to watch the old Charlton Heston movie The Ten
Commandments. It’s a great way to remind the children of the background of the
Holy Week story, though it could do with a little less of the extra-Biblical
stuff. In it you see prefigurements of Holy Thursday and Good Friday (the
Passover, with the Blood of the Lamb saving the Jews from slavery).
Ezekiel 37:12-14, Psalms 130:1-8, Romans 8:8-11, John
11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45
Epriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily before the papal conclave
that elected him, called Catholics to “friendship with Jesus.” It’s a theme he
has returned to many times.
Today’s Gospel is about three siblings, Martha, Mary and
Lazarus, who were close friends of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke (10:40) showed one
intimate family moment with Jesus and Martha and Mary. Today’s Gospel gives
more details of that friendship:
Jesus helps his friends. The sisters send word to the Lord
about Lazarus, saying, “The one you love is ill.”We can pray the same way,
because each of us is “the one you love” to Jesus.
Jesus looks out for his friends. Later, Christ says, “Our
friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.”
This time, he isn’t prompted by a prayer — he’s looking out
for his friend, as he will for us.
We trust our friend. Martha illustrates great trust when she
says, after Lazarus has died, “But even now I know that whatever you ask of
God, God will give you.”
We need faith that Christ can solve the seemingly
intractable problems in our own life.
We run to meet our friend. When Mary heard Jesus was coming,
she didn’t hesitate: “she rose quickly and went to him.”
We need to respond right away to Jesus, our friend … not
Jesus shares our sorrows. We can get into a habit of
thinking of Jesus as severe, distant or aloof. But here we see how he really
is. “When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he
became perturbed and deeply troubled,” says the Gospel. “And Jesus wept.”
Jesus gives us life. Finally, the resurrection of Lazarus
should teach us that our friendship with Jesus isn’t just a warm human
friendship: It’s a friendship with God, whose power will astonish us.
The Hoopeses are
editorial directors of
Faith & Family magazine (faithandfamilymag.com).