5th Sunday of Lent Year A (2023)

Sunday March 26, 2023

Mass Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

  • First ReadingEzekiel 37:12-14: The prophet Ezekiel is given a vision of a valley filled with dry bones, which represent the people of Israel who are dead in their exile. The Lord promises to put his spirit within them and restore them to life, bringing them back to their own land.
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 130: This is a psalm of supplication and trust in the Lord’s mercy and redemption. The psalmist cries out to the Lord from the depths and acknowledges that with the Lord there is forgiveness and plenteous redemption, and encourages Israel to wait for the Lord and trust in his word.
  • Second ReadingRomans 8:8-11: Paul teaches that those who live according to the flesh cannot please God, but those who live according to the Spirit have the Spirit of Christ within them and will have life. He declares that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells within believers and gives life to their mortal bodies.
  • GospelJohn 11:1-45: Jesus receives news that his friend Lazarus is seriously ill, but waits to visit him until after he has died. When Jesus arrives, he raises Lazarus from the dead, demonstrating his power over death and prompting many to believe in him.

Themes for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

The readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent are about how God can take us from death to new life. The first reading tells us of God’s desire to bring us back to life. The second reading tells us if Christ dwells in us, we will have new life as He does. And the gospel tells how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Some possible themes for this weekend are

  • New life and resurrection: God’s power to bring life out of death and hope out of despair, as demonstrated in the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
  • Faith: The importance of faith in Jesus Christ, as exemplified by Martha’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God.
  • Repentance: The call to repentance and conversion, as expressed in Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the need to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh.
  • Trust in God’s mercy: The promise of God’s mercy and forgiveness, as expressed in the Responsorial Psalm, and the need to trust in God’s loving kindness and plenteous redemption.
  • The Pascal Mystery: Through the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus demonstrates his power over death and foreshadows his own resurrection. This event is a sign of hope for believers, as it points to the victory of life over death.
  • Grief and suffering: The gospel illustrates the reality of human suffering and the pain that comes with loss, as well as the compassion and empathy that Jesus shows towards those who are grieving.

See the Homilies and Reflections section and the More Thoughts section for further expansion on these readings and some reflection questions for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A.

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Resources for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

Toilet Paper Lazarus Game

This Toilet Paper Lazarus game is a fun and engaging way to help youth understand and remember the story of the raising of Lazarus from the gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A. A set of reflection questions provide reinforcement of the gospel account.

Are There Pets In Heaven? – A Lesson Plan on Resurrection

Are There Pets In Heaven? – A Lesson Plan on Resurrection

This Are There Pets in Heaven? lesson plan will help youth consider what heaven will be like and who and what might be there. This also goes with the readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A.

Prayer for the Grieving

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be a long process. It is natural for many to turn to God in these times. Although it can also be normal to experience anger, disappointment in God, or a general lack of faith. Don’t despair! God is still there. He is waiting for you and patiently allows each of us to grieve in our own way. This goes with the theme of grief for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A .

What Is the Paschal Mystery?

The Paschal Mystery is God’s plan for the salvation of mankind, as fulfilled in the passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has shown us that death does not have the final word. The raising of Lazarus in the gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A foreshadows the resurrection of Jesus.

Eternal Dodge Ball

Eternal Dodge Ball never ends. Every time somebody gets out by getting hit with the ball, someone has a chance to return to the game. Unless you have one really dominant player, this game will go on and on and on for an eternity!

Lenten Ideas for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

Give Up Complaining for a Day

It is so easy to fall into the habit of complaining. To really not complain at all for one day is more difficult than it sounds. So don’t complain about anything. At all. Really. Fast from complaining.

Make Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are traditionally served during Lent, particularly on Good Friday in some parts of the world.  The cross on them reminds us of the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The spices used in them are reminders of the fragrant spices used during burial at the time

See More Lenten Ideas

See specific ideas for practicing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during the Lenten season.

Homilies and Reflections for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

Facing Our Fear

In this reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A, Jeff Cavins explains that Jesus brings us life from death, brokenness, and decay. He overcomes death.

Let Him Go

A homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A from Bishop Robert Barron. “The great Lenten readings for Cycle A move in a kind of crescendo from thirst, to blindness, to death—all metaphors for spiritual dysfunction. This Sunday’s Gospel deals with death through the story of Lazarus who, after four days in his tomb, represents someone who is totally sunk in sin, totally dead spiritually. The voice of Jesus calls Lazarus, and all of us, back to life—no matter what we’ve done, and no matter how dead we are.”

At Lazarus’ Tomb

A reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A from Scott Hahn. “As we draw near to the end of Lent, today’s Gospel clearly has Jesus’ passion and death in view. That’s why John gives us the detail about Lazarus’ sister, Mary—that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial.” Continue reading.

More Thoughts for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

Life, Death, and Resurrection

The 5th Sunday of Lent Year A invites us to reflect on the themes of life, death, and resurrection. The Gospel reading for this Sunday, from John 11:1-45, tells the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

In this story, Jesus receives word that his friend Lazarus is ill. However, instead of rushing to his side, Jesus delays his journey for two days. By the time he arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. When he sees Lazarus’s sister Martha, Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life, and that whoever believes in him will never die.

When Jesus arrives at Lazarus’s tomb, he weeps and then commands Lazarus to come out of the tomb. Lazarus emerges, still wrapped in his burial cloths, and Jesus instructs the people around him to unbind him and let him go.

This passage is a powerful reminder of the hope and promise of resurrection that is at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus prefigures his own resurrection, which we will celebrate in just a few weeks on Easter Sunday. It reminds us that, no matter how difficult or painful our lives may be, there is always hope for new life and transformation through the power of Christ.

At the same time, this passage also reminds us of the reality of death and the importance of mourning and grieving. When Jesus sees Lazarus’s sister Mary weeping, he too is moved to tears. This is a reminder that it is okay to feel sadness and grief when we lose a loved one, and that these emotions are a natural part of the human experience.

As we reflect on this passage, we are invited to hold both of these truths in tension: the reality of death and the hope of resurrection. We are called to embrace the reality of our own mortality, but also to hold fast to the hope of new life and transformation through Christ. In doing so, we can find comfort and strength in the knowledge that, no matter what we may face in this life, we are never alone and that Christ is with us always.

Women of Faith

Today’s readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A also bring forward how Jesus’ female disciples heard and understood what he was saying. We know that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were good friends of Jesus and probably knew him well. So when Lazarus becomes seriously ill, they call on the Lord.

But Lazarus dies and the sisters are distraught. When Jesus finally arrives, Lazarus has been entombed for several days. Upon seeing Jesus, Martha expresses her faith in his power. “If you had been here…” And her discussion of the resurrection indicates that she has knowledge and interest in theology.

When Jesus states “I am the resurrection and the life…” he asks Martha if she believes. And she firmly confesses her faith. “Yes Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ.” Oh that we would have such unwavering faith in our Lord!

Then Mary enters the scene. As usual the contrast between the two sisters is evident. Martha reacts from her head, and Mary responds from her heart, with anguish and weeping. With Martha, Jesus responds with knowledge. But with Mary, he responds with emotion. “Jesus wept.”

So we can see that both women have faith in Jesus, despite their different responses. And he responds to them in kind. Our Lord experiences life in the many ways we experience it. He is always in solidarity with us.

Reflection Questions for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

  • Do you tend to respond with reason or emotion during times of crisis?
  • In what ways do you encounter Jesus during difficult moments in your life?
  • How has your faith been a source of strength during challenging times?
  • Have you ever experienced a moment of despair or hopelessness, only to be surprised by a new opportunity or a fresh start?
  • How do you approach and cope with grief and loss in your life?
  • What does your belief in the resurrection and eternal life mean to you personally?
  • How can you balance the reality of death with the hope of resurrection in your own life?
  • In what ways can you share the hope and promise of resurrection with others who may be struggling with grief, despair, or hopelessness?

Social Media Graphic for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.

From the first reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

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