Week 5
March 26-April 1

In this week’s reading, Jesus’s friend Lazarus dies, but Jesus raises him from the dead. Before this miracle, Jesus comforts Lazarus’ grieving sisters by saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

Jesus wants us to know he makes all things new. He takes spiritually dead people and brings them back to life. Providing families with clean water is providing a new life to them too. That’s because water brings life to their body, and Jesus brings life to their soul. Providing clean water to families is an example of what Christ does for us all.

Water brought life to Maureen Mumba, a mother of five children in Zambia. Before a community well was drilled with the help of generous American Catholics like you, Maureen had to rely on collecting contaminated water and she and her children suffered as a result.

Maureen Mumba from Zambia used to collect water from shallow holes in the ground like these.

“We would wait for the water to come up from the ground. We are a big village and so sometimes we would go in the night to draw water,” she said. “My other challenge was that we wasted a lot of time waiting for water. Time that we could have [spent] either been sleeping or working on other household chores if it’s during the day.”

This water gave children in the village diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses.

Now that her village has access to clean water, Maureen says that the cases of diarrhea have been greatly reduced, families are able to clean their clothes and everyone has more time to pursue spiritual endeavors. Maureen has joined the choir at church and has time to attend Mass regularly.

Clean water changes lives for the better; Jesus changes lives for eternity. When we give clean water, we bring glory to God as we share with his people.

Third Reading from the Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11:1-45 (NRSVCE)

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,  after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.”  After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Jesus the Resurrection and the Life.

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Take Action: Search the Scriptures

Many poor families spend hours hunting for faraway water sources. This week, hunt through the Scriptures to find any verse that mentions the words “water” or “thirst.” Place a coin in the collection cup for every water-related passage of Scripture you find.

Next week is Palm Sunday! Click here and get instructions to make your own Palm Sunday craft.


Learning Corner

While installing clean wells in needy communities is certainly a step in the right direction, communities need more. Church leaders know this too, and they have an educational plan to help keep wells functional and contaminant-free for years to come. Boreholes require periodic maintenance; therefore, people must be equipped to maintain them. Workshops are held to provide basic knowledge regarding sanitation and hygiene, equipping villagers with simple tools that make an invaluable difference.

In Africa, the water relief projects we support are accompanied by water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training sessions — as well as other innovative workshops. These educational sessions give communities the knowledge they need to protect their health and maximize the benefits of their new water systems. This also helps the people take ownership of the wells in their community.

Family Discussion

1. Why do people say that water is life?

2. Why is it important to empower communities to care for the wells themselves? Do you care for things better when you have responsibility for them?

St. Ignatius Prayer for Generosity

Dear Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.