Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130:1-8; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45)
Praying to the Lord with Expectant Faith
Father, I thank you for hearing me. (John 11:41)
You have probably prayed many prayers this Lent, maybe even for those who are sick or departed loved ones—the “Lazaruses” in your life. But does the thought ever creep in: God, are you even listening?
Perhaps we can take a cue from Jesus as he prayed for his friend Lazarus, who had just died. Rather than starting off with his specific request, he said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me” (John 11:41). Jesus offered words of gratitude for the greatest gift of all: God’s friendship and love. He trusted that his Father knew what he needed before he even asked. He knew that his Father would give just the right gifts at just the right time—even if it meant that Lazarus wouldn’t rise until the end of time.
Mary and Martha, women of great faith, expected that Jesus would come as soon as he got word that Lazarus was sick. But he delayed. As time passed, they too must have thought, God, are you listening? By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was already dead and decaying. But Jesus’ delay had nothing to do with indifference. He was so moved by the women’s distress that he wept at Lazarus’ tomb. In the end, his delay led to an even greater miracle: not just a healing but an actual rising from death!
Jesus hears every prayer you make, even if he doesn’t answer you right away. He weeps with you in your sorrow. He is with you, even when he is holding back his healing touch. He may not give you what you ask for, but he will give you something good—perhaps an increased compassion for other people’s suffering or a greater healing further down the road. Best of all, he will give you the greatest of all gifts: an ever-deepening relationship with him.
So run to the One who hears all your prayers. Go with confidence and trust. Jesus is with you. He will not abandon you!
“Lord, thank you for hearing me. I treasure the incredible gift that you are to me!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
- In the first reading, Ezekiel speaks of the days when the Lord will put his Spirit in each one of us and give us new life in him. And we know that this began at our Baptism! What practical steps can you take during the remaining weeks of Lent to help you focus on and be more sensitive to the fact that the very Spirit of the Living God is present within you?
- The responsorial psalm uses the metaphor of sentinels anxiously awaiting the light of dawn after a dark and lonely night of keeping watch. In what way does this also represent our waiting on the Lord, as we put our trust in his “forgiveness,” “kindness,” and “redemption.” How might you approach the Eucharist, or your times of prayer, with a deeper longing and trust in the Lord?
- St. Paul in the second reading tells us that because the Spirit of God dwells in us, God promises that our mortal bodies will be raised from the dead too! Sin and death will have no hold over us. As you dwell on these truths, what thoughts or sentiments does it bring to your mind?
- In the Gospel, in the raising of Lazarus from the dead, we are once again reminded that death doesn’t have the last word! No matter how final death seems, the victory belongs to God’s Anointed, Jesus. What has the last word in your life? Is it discouragement over your sins? Is it the troubles that beset you? Which is stronger: your faith in the power of God’s Spirit in you or the pull of temptation that constantly tries to swamp the Spirit? Why? How can you strengthen this faith?
- The mediation reflects on why Jesus may have delayed coming to heal Lazarus when he heard that he was sick: “In the end, his delay led to an even greater miracle: not just a healing but an actual rising from death!” Can you share a time you saw God glorified, and your faith strengthened, in a situation that did not go according to your prayers or expectations?
- Take some time now to pray and thank the Lord for his faithfulness in hearing you when you turn to him in prayer. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.