The First Reading is from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. At the time of this story, the people of Israel are captives in Babylon, living in physical exile from their homeland and in spiritual exile from God. They feel God has abandoned them. But Ezekiel bears witness to the reanimation of the dead Israel in preparation for her return to the Promised Land. He guarantees his community in exile that the Lord will one day bring them back to live in the freedom of the Promised Land. The Lord states, “I will open your graves, have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.”
The Second Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. Paul contrasts ‘life in the spirit’ with ‘life in the flesh.’ For Paul, “Flesh is that part that is not yet surrendered to God and transformed by grace, that part that continues to be self-centered and rebellious against God and his ways. Instead, ‘spirit’ is that part that seeks to follow God and his ways over sinful desires. St. Paul also assures the early Roman Christians, who were facing death by persecution that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will raise their mortal bodies to Life on the Last Day. Paul considers the Resurrection of Jesus as a reality, the ground of our Faith and the basis for our hope of sharing in Jesus’ Resurrection.
The Gospel Reading is from the Gospel of John. This week, we are all captivated by the spectacular story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and rightly so. But, this is not the essence of this Gospel message. The real message is Jesus' statement, "I am the resurrection and the life.” What Jesus is telling all mankind is that He is in control of both physical and spiritual life and we only need to have His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, guiding us to partake of His resurrection. Our faith in Jesus, who is “the Resurrection and the Life,” promises our participation in resurrection and new life.