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Youth Ministry Resources - 5th Sunday of Lent

Year A: John 11:1-45 - The raising of Lazarus - 5th Sunday of Lent

Once again we have a long reading from John that is overflowing with wisdom and love. We also hear another "I Am" statement to add to the growing list - "I am the good shepherd; I am the bread of life; last week, I am the light of the world" and today "I am the resurrection and the life." We know that it is from the Hebrew for 'I AM' that a name for God, YHWH, was derived, so we are in no doubt that Jesus is God. Today's passage is about reiterating the reality that Jesus is God and that is one of the reasons why Jesus waited for a couple of days after hearing that Lazarus was sick before he started on the journey. Jesus wanted everyone to be sure that Lazarus was dead and buried before he arrived to bring him back to life. And just is case we did not understand, Jesus speaks plainly and states that "Lazarus is dead."

On arrival we hear Martha's incredible profession of faith - knowing her brother was dead and in deep mourning, and yet believing in Jesus and that the source of the power in Jesus is God. Jesus will demonstrate that God has given him power over life and death. We hear from Jesus some of the most reassuring words from the Gospels "whoever lives and believes in me will never die" a favourite passage read at numerous funerals. Jesus left what was considered to be safe country to travel to Bethany which is only 2 miles from Jerusalem. His disciples realise the danger and state they are ready to die with him.

It is ironic that Jesus greatest 'sign', the raising of Lazarus with the gift of life, leads to the decisive act of unbelief, the formal decision that Jesus must "die for the people" (11:1-57). There was so much belief in Jesus from the people that it was decided that this outburst must cease. Jesus openly displays very deep emotion in this passage "He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved" the Greek translation states "groaned in his spirit, and troubled in himself" because of his love for Lazarus. The good news for us is that we are loved to that same extent because through our Baptism we are sister and brother of Jesus. We too have died in the tomb and been raised to eternal life through Baptism and that is why our funerals are experiences of love and hope.

Cate Mapstone

YOUTH ANGLE: Giving Life

Not once do we read or hear about Jesus killing anyone or encouraging it. Of hurting anyone and encouraging it. It's not part of his mission, his assignment, his philosophy. He is busy giving life to people. Always giving life. A few weeks ago through water and words at a well. Last week, through action and giving eye sight. This week by raising Lazarus to life. Life giving and life promoting. For who? For a Samaritan - an outsider, the blind man - a disabled person, Lazarus - an old dead man, and in a few weeks for all of us. No one is unworthy of the life giving of Jesus. Jesus spends his time giving life to all. Which asks the question: why do so many people or nations that call themselves Christian (followers of Christ) still spend so much time taking life away? Wars, invasions, discriminations, sanctions, death penalty, debt, torture . . .all of these are ways that we take life away. If we are followers of Jesus we need to follow his example of giving life. What are three life giving actions YOU have done this week? And for whom?

Year C: 5th Sunday in Lent

The pivotal values in the 1st century Mediterranean world where Jesus lived were honour and shame. Today's gospel is centred on a story of honour and shame where a woman caught in adultery is placed on show before a crowd of men. Frequent comment is made about where he male accomplice might be! For the scribes and Pharisees the main point is not to get the woman punished but to set a trap for Jesus. Would Jesus defy the prescriptions of the law of Moses or would he, by condemning the woman, usurp the prerogative of the Roman occupying power who reserved the death penalty to themselves? The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned to challenge the honour of Jesus than to shame the woman. Jesus chooses to write in the dirt and it is not important what he wrote, what is important is that he gave himself time to think about their challenge and for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to come to the fore. The power of the gentleness of Jesus is breathtaking. The eldest leaves first and the crowd disappears. Jesus has a better way of dealing with sin than condemnation and punishment. He does not deny or condone sin, Jesus' concern is to rescue the woman from her terrible plight and set her free for a new life. Once the crowd has gone, Jesus looks at her for the first time, "Go and sin no more." We too are called to be gentle in our dealings with other people, including those who might seek to trap or shame us, but also the marginalised. Jesus has shown us that gentleness is not weakness but is the way of love and so is most powerful because love is life-changing.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 5th Sunday in Lent
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Youth Ministry Resources 5th Sunday in Lent