Fifth Sunday of Lent: March 26, 2023
A Change of Heart (Ezekiel 37:12–14)
Are you still being faithful to your Lenten resolutions? No matter how firm or weak your resolve, you have come to face the mystery of sin, loss, and death. Changing old habits is hard. To change something is to lose something.
Those chosen for Baptism this Easter will change their old habits. They will put to death whatever has kept them from life in Christ.
The faithful also will change old habits. They will put to death the sin that mars their faithfulness to God. All in the community need the prayerful and penitential support of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Ezekiel addresses people who have lived in exile and oppression, far from the center of their social and religious life. They have lived in a tomb. Now God promises, “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” God will dwell with them and give them the divine spirit.
This Lent, the church has invited you to examine your life, to confront your sin, and to secure your intent to change. The season is nearly over. The day of promise draws near. God stands ready to open your grave and bring you forth to new life. If you die to whatever keeps you from God, you will grow from the lessons of loss.
Dead from Sin, Alive with Spirit (Romans 8:8–11)
As Lent nears its end, we become more mindful of our sins. We have promised to renew our hearts throughout this season. We have accepted a spirit of penitence. The elect, who are preparing for Baptism at Easter, have received our prayers in scrutiny rites that purify their intentions and turn their hearts more firmly toward Christ.
But at this stage of Lent, we may be even more aware of our sin. Perhaps we have not been completely faithful to our Lenten resolutions. Perhaps we feel more strongly the difficult challenge to overcome bad habits that have taken years to form. Lent offers promise, but it sometimes causes discouragement.
Sin is no stranger to the human condition. But sin is not our natural condition. Through Baptism, we are children of God.
St. Paul tells the Romans not to feel disappointed by their experience of sin, because the Spirit of God is much more powerful. “If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
God’s Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. The same Spirit dwells within us. The same Spirit gives life to our bodies prone to death.
If Lent has made us more aware of our sin, it should also make us more aware of God’s love. God’s Spirit reaches us, holds us, and lifts us high—in spite of our sin.
Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year A © 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.