Fifth Sunday Lent 2012- Reflections Raising of Lazarus

                                                                     Image from here

Scripture Readings for Sunday's Mass are here.

From The First Reading

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord:

 I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” 
Jeremiah 31

  • Various reflections are here.

The Gentiles Ask to See Jesus 
Image below by James Tissot

I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
'Father, save me from this hour?'
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.

Behold The Wood by Dan Schutte

Words by Dan Schutte

Behold, behold, the wood of the cross,
On which is hung our salvation.
O come, let us adore.

Unless a grain of wheat shall fall
upon the ground and die
It shall remain but a single grain,
and not give life 

And when my hour of glory comes
as all was meant to be
You shall see me lifted up upon a tree.

                                                                He died for me Source Ira Thomas

The following is from Anthony de Mello. 

 It fasts forwards us to Good Friday but it is based on the words of today's Gospel..

Moments after Jesus has died I stand on the hill of Calvary,
unconscious of the crowd. It is as if I am alone, my eyes fixed
on that lifeless body on the cross.

I watch the thoughts and feelings
that arise within me
as I look.

I see the crucified as stripped of everything.

Stripped of his dignity, naked before his friends and enemies.
Stripped of his reputation.
My mind goes back to the scenes and times
when he was spoken well of.

Stripped of success.
I recall the heady years
when his miracles were acclaimed
and it seemed as if the Kingdom
were about to be established.

Stripped of credibility.
So he could not come down from the cross.
So he could not save himself
- he must have been a fraud.
Stripped of support.
Even the friends who did not run away are powerless to reach him.

Stripped of his God
- the God he thought of as his Father,
who he hoped would save him in his hour of need.

Finally I see him stripped of life,
this existence here on earth
that he, like us, held on to tenaciously
and was unwilling to let go of.

As I gaze at that lifeless body I slowly understand
that I am looking at the symbol of supreme and total liberation.

In being fastened to the cross
Jesus becomes alive and free.

Here is a parable of conquest, not defeat.

It calls for envy, not commiseration.
So now I contemplate the majesty of the man
who has freed himself
from all that makes us slaves,
destroys our happiness.

In gazing at that freedom
I think with sadness of my slavery.
I am a slave to public opinion.
I think of the times I am controlled
by what society will say and think of me.

I am driven to success.
I see the times I run away from challenges and risks
- because I hate to make mistakes or fail.

I am enslaved by the need for human consolation:
How many times I was dependent
on the approval and acceptance of my friends
and their power to assuage my loneliness …

the times I was possessive of my friends
and lost my freedom.

I think of my enslavement to my God.
I think of the times I try to use him
to make my life secure
and undisturbed and painless.

Also the times I am enslaved by fear of him
and by the need to protect myself against him
through rites and superstitions.

Finally I think of how I cling to life,
how paralyzed I am by fears of every kind, unable to take risks
for fear of losing friends or reputation,
success or life or God.

And so I gaze in admiration at the crucified
who won his final liberation in his passion
when he fought with his attachments,
let go of them, and conquered.

I see the lines of people everywhere who
will kneel today, Good Friday,
in adoration of the crucified.
I perform my adoration here on Calvary,
completely unaware of the noisy crowd around me:

I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground,
desiring for myself the freedom and the victory that shine out in that body on the cross.

And in my adoration
I hear those haunting words re-echo in my heart:
“If you wish to follow me,
you must follow with your cross.”

And those other words, “Unless it dies,
the grain of wheat remains alone.”

- Anthony de Mello


I couldn't get very far in searching this week without coming across articles about atonement theory.

Personally, I am still muddled about it and at this moment in time I just recognise my own inadequacy at explaining anything !  

Having come this far on the Lenten Journey I have reached an impasse in some ways. 

The story goes that one of the world’s ablest theologians. Thomas Aquinas suddenly stopped writing. When his secretary complained about his unfinished works, Thomas replied: ‘Brother Reginald, some months ago I experienced something of the Absolute, so all I have ever written of God seems to me now to be like straw.’

I think I'm  somewhere between
 Pray, fast, and be holy, for tomorrow, we die."
Simon Peter answered him, "
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
- John 6:68

Nevertheless these are a few articles that are worth reflecting on.  

From American Catholic Why God Wanted To Become Human

 A Transformational story about God and Life 

Excellent reflection here of what we make and mistake of Jesus the Messiah

A Better Atonement ; the Last Scapegoat

Some Thoughts on Atonement James Alison

More thoughts : James Alison

The Passion of Jesus Responding to James Alison

The Anthropologyof René Girard and Traditional Doctrines of Atonement

I have also been reading Dancing With Dinosaurs by Dom Mark Patrick Hederman. 
I haven't had the time to incorporate what he says about the cross today but the final parts of his book on the cross are certainly thought provoking-

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