WHEN JESUS WEPT – 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

March 29, 2020

Revised Common Lectionary

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45


Lectionary for Mass (RC)

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

For much of the world today, both the field of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) and the tomb of Lazarus (John 11) may well feel like familiar places. The COVID-19 pandemic has struck not only at individuals who have been infected, but also at nations and communities that experience fear, illness, and death in their midst.

How can these dry bones live? Who will call us from our graves?

We are not alone in this crisis. Just as Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus, so too does God weep with those who suffer and grieve. Just as Jesus groaned at the tomb, so too does God groan with the Spirit that brings life to dry bones. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:7).

In this time of crisis God is with us, summoning us to come out of our graves (even if not yet from our homes), to dare to live even in the midst of death. The Holy One bids us to be prophets who proclaim life to those around us as Ezekiel did to the dry bones. Jesus calls us to reach out to others in distress, to unbind them and let them go free (Jn 11:44).

Like Jesus we can weep with those who suffer and groan from the depths of our being, drawing deeply on the Spirit that lives within us.


A Hymn for Today

The American composer William Billings created a canon, When Jesus Wept, that draws singers into Jesus’ response to the death of Lazarus and in so doing also gently challenges us to weep and groan with those who suffer. Click here to hear a recording.

When Jesus wept, the falling tear
in mercy flowed beyond all bound.
When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear
seized all the guilty world around.

Text: Perez Morton, 1770

Music: William Billings, 1770

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.