Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

 

The Meditation

for
The Fifth Sunday of Lent,
March 29, 2020

Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14;  Romans 8.8-11;  John 11.1-45
 
Summary of the meditation:
 
Jesus saves us ultimately and absolutely when he remakes our nature in the pattern of his glorious resurrected body.  This re-making is the promise of the Lord’s Second Coming.  The call to Lazarus addresses both  body and soul.  The promise to come forth from the tombs is given to all humanity.  Our final spiritual perfection is our resurrected body in the glory of Christ’s Kingdom.  Therefore, it is in this hope that we are saved.
 
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5.28-29).
 
The climax of the process of faith in the Gospel Reading is the exchange between Jesus and Martha.  “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus assured her.  “I know that he will rise again,” Martha replied, “in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus told her: “I am the resurrection and the life; and whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?” Gospel Reading).
 
No matter how deeply our contemplative prayer brings us into union with God during our life time, the final perfection is only achieved when God raises us up into a new life in our bodies.  Only then shall we know and love God within God perfectly.  We love and are united perfectly in transforming love only in the resurrection of our bodies on the last day.  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also through the Spirit dwelling in you.
 
Each time we enter into our prayer practice we witness to the promise God makes.  We bear the prophetic proclamation to the human race: O my people!  I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land;  thus you shall know that I am the Lord.  I have promised and I will do it, says the Lord (First Reading).
 
Full Meditation:
 
The Concreteness of Our Full Redemption
 
We must be careful about the way we interpret the Gospel Reading.  Seeking a spiritual meaning to sustain our contemplative practice, we may overlook the actual event.  We may look upon Lazarus as a type of spiritual renewal exclusively so that we say:  “Christ calls us from the tomb of our false selves into the new life of union with God.”   If we do that exclusively, we will subtly avoid the particularity of Jesus, the Son of Man, dead and then risen, as the savior of a fallen race in his own physical-real existence as a man. 
 
Jesus saves us ultimately and absolutely when he remakes our nature in the pattern of his glorious resurrection from the dead.  This re-making is the promise of the Lord’s Second Coming.  The call to Lazarus addresses both  body and soul.  The promise to come forth from the tombs is given to all humanity.  Our final spiritual perfection is our resurrected body in the glory of Christ’s Kingdom.  Therefore, it is in this hope that we are saved.
 
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5.28-29).
 
Jesus calls forth Lazarus back into normal, human life as a sign of the resurrection from the dead.  In the power of Christ’s resurrection, all humanity is called to new life, to resurrection of the body in a new creation.  This will be the final stage of the kingdom of God in which the human race will be resurrected into a new life upon a renewed earth.
 
The Heart of the Revelation in Christ Jesus
 
I was amazed once to hear a leader in the Christian contemplative movement in an interview on national television say that he did not know when asked about our final destiny after death. 
 
The heart of the contemplative calls us to profess with our lips from a believing heart that Jesus is risen from the dead.  In the Holy Spirit through faith, this same Jesus of Nazareth who died on the cross in his precious blood, will raise us up into new life on the last day of this present mode of creation.  There is no cloud of unknowing blocking the revealed words of this testimony.
 
The climax of the process of faith in the Gospel Reading is the exchange between Jesus and Martha:
 
  “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus assured her.  “I know that he will rise again,” Martha replied, “in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus told her: “I am the resurrection and the life; and whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?” Gospel Reading).
 
We, like Martha, must reply to Christ’s question about our faith:
“Do you believe this?” 
 
Our faith relationship with God in Christ is founded on this fundamental belief about the ultimate state of our fallen condition.  It is not merely an uplifting of consciousness that Jesus brings to us, as a sort of spiritual master.  Life in Christ brings ontological resurrection from the dead.  It is our bodies that will be refashioned in union with our spiritual souls in the wholeness of resurrection on the last day of this present state of creation.
 
We enter into union with Jesus through this basic act of faith. Do you believe this? is the door into divine life in Jesus.  We enter through the door of the sacred, resurrected humanity of Jesus of Nazareth:
 
  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God:  He who is to come into the world.” 
 
Martha is the professing Church embracing and proclaiming the truth of resurrection from the dead.
 
The Second Reading: The Resurrected Life Now and in the Age to Come
 
The Second Reading brings together these two aspects of our life in Christ.  The Second Reading teaches the spiritual resurrection in the grace of the Holy Spirit and at the same time, the pledge of the resurrection of the body on the last day.  Our contemplative union is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The same Spirit is the cause of the resurrection of our bodies and of the final renewal of all earthly creation
 
The first part of the Second Reading treats of the new life now in grace:
 
  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh [i.e. the basis of your spiritual life is not sin nor is it only the natural capacity of human nature]you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you [i.e. you have touched the center of your personhood, your spirit, because the Holy Spirit has led you there and filled you with His presence, along with the Father and the Son, the full Triune presence].  If any does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ [i.e. only grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit who is the cause of our confessing Jesus as Lord and Son of God, can bring us into the divine life of the Trinity].
 
The Reality of Our Bodies, Sacred, Awaiting Full Resurrection
 
This divine life is not merely a thing of consciousness and of spirit.  The spirit and the personhood of our spirituality is one with the body.  Our body, that is, our physical life, is not fully redeemed.  We experience pain and eventually death: 
 
If Christ is in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin, while the spirit lives because of justice [i.e. the justice that flows from sanctifying grace]. 
 
No matter how deeply our contemplative life brings us into union with God in this existence, the final perfection is only achieved when God raises us up into a new life in our bodies.  Only then shall we know and love God within God perfectly.  We love and are united perfectly in transforming love only in the resurrection of our bodies on the last day:
 
  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also through the Spirit dwelling in you.
 
Our Prayer: A Prophetic Witness to the Redemption of the Universe
 
Our contemplative prayer practice is prophetic.  It is not only for ourselves that we pursue the Holy Spirit’s promptings for divine union.  We live and pray for the resurrection of all peoples into the fullness of God’s Kingdom.  Each time we enter into our prayer practice we witness to the promise God has made:
 
O my people!  I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land;  thus you shall know that I am the Lord.  I have promised and I will do it, says the Lord (First Reading).
 
It is especially in our sharing in the Eucharistic Sacrifice that we become the fullness of the Church as the sign of resurrection. Our prayer is the prolongation of the moment of Christ’s sacramental sacrifice.  We are one with Christ in our baptismal priesthood in this work of salvation.  


 
William Fredrickson, Obl. Secular OSB; D.Min.
 
 
 

 
 


For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson
Fredrickson46@msn.com