Week #5 Reflection: the Gospel of John 11:38-44 & St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians 5:16-18
Verse to memorize
“Father, thank you for hearing me; I know that you always hear me.”
In the Gospel of St. John, there is the well known account of Jesus raising his friend, Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had gotten very sick and his sisters, Martha and Mary had summoned Jesus. But Lazarus died before Jesus arrived. When at last he arrived, Jesus asked where they had laid him. And Jesus wept.
So Jesus, deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Verse to memorize
“Pray without ceasing.”
St. Paul was a traveling evangelist. After he left each community behind, he kept in touch by writing epistles or letters, to encourage the new Christians to keep the faith, especially the communities under persecution. In this short passage from his letter to the Christian church in Thessalonika, Macedonia, he emphasizes the need for prayer and rejoicing.
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (John 11:38-44)
1. This week we have two Bible passages, the Raising of Lazarus and St. Paul’s advice to the church he founded in Thessalonika.
They each have something in common. Do you see it? In the story of the Raising of Lazarus from the dead, what does Jesus do immediately before he performs the miracle? See vss 41 & 42 Who is he praying to? What does he say?
2. Yes, we actually get to listen in to Jesus Our Lord talking to his Father!! What do you think? Does God hear your prayers? Ans: Whether we pray to God the Father or Jesus, it doesn’t matter. We know for sure from this passage that a) God always hears our prayers, and b.) we should thank him for hearing our prayers. He is teaching Martha, Mary, the people alive at that time, and us, how to pray.
3. What is prayer? It is very simple; it is talking to God, like to the best friend ever, ever, ever. You don’t have to say words out loud. You can think them to God. You can look up and just smile at him. Then there are the formal prayers, like Now I lay Me Down to Sleep, the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed, the Glory Be the Act of Contrition and many more. What prayers do you know? Do you have a favorite prayer?
4. In the second reading, what does St. Paul urge his new Christians at Thessalonika to do? What does “without ceasing” mean? How can a person “pray without ceasing”? We can offer our work, our play, acts of kindness, especially our disappointments and sufferings to Jesus as spiritual gifts. Say to him, “This is for you.” A good job on your school work or sweeping the kitchen can be a prayer. When we are tired, we can rest in Jesus. Once your friendship with Jesus grows, prayer can become like breathing.
5. People all over the world are suffering in hospitals from the Corona virus? They have fevers and it is hard to breathe. Are you scared? What does God want us to do when we are afraid? Ans: Pray and trust him. St. Paul also urges us to “rejoice always”. What does rejoice mean? How can we have joy, in a pandemic? Ans: Remember all the things we still have, help others in their sufferings, remember that God is with us, loves us and that we belong to him.
Courtesy of The Bible Project