Saturday 9 April 2022 – THREAT OF EARTHLY POWER

5th Week of Lent

1st Reading: Ezk 37:21-28

Thus says the Lord God: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations to which they have come, and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.  I will make them one nation upon the land, in the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one prince for them all.  Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.  No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions.  I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy, and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God. My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.  They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their fathers lived; they shall live on it forever, they, and their children, and their children’s children, with my servant David their prince forever.  I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the Lord, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

Gospel: Jn 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.  But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do?  This man is performing many signs.  If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.”  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”  He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.  So from that day on they planned to kill him.  So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.  Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves.  They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”

THREAT OF EARTHLY POWER: True authority and power is in God rescuing and restoring the broken hopes of the Israelites, as shown by Ezekiel. This is the hope and restoration that Jesus brings to us. He is willing to lay down His life for our sake. Some Jews believe in Him as the true source of hope. Others reject Him. This second group feels threatened and desire to keep their power. They think Jesus is threatening their earthly power. Indeed He seeks that they do justice to those they govern. Yet much more is His Power and Authority, for He is God. This Gospel invites us to journey with Christ in the Holy Week. From tomorrow Palm Sunday, Jesus gives up His life for our sake. Let us walk with Jesus during this week, seeing the great love He has for us even in our darkest moments. May we experience Him in His passion so that we may resurrect with Him.

Prayer: Help me Lord to commit myself in the journey of faith.

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GOD’S SANCTUARY AMONG MEN: It pleased God to pitch his tent among humans. God’s presence among them is for their sanctification. The prophet Ezekiel speaks about God who wants to deliver his people from all forms of defilement and transgression. He continuously offers his covenant with his people. Jesus is God’s presence with us. He brought us the “Passover” from death to life. The people of His time never recognized him. “Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves.”  The Jews, stuck in their traditions, celebrated the Passover without passing over from their old patterns to the new covenant which Jesus proclaimed and lived. Towards the end of the Gospel we see them, however, looking for Jesus. This is yet another opportunity for that which brings purification and salvation.

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THERE SHALL BE ONE SHEPHERD FOR THEM ALL: There is suspense: “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?” Tension has brewed to tipping point. It is dangerous for Jesus to be seen publicly. Yet, he will go. He is ready to lay down his life for the sheep. This way he is going to fulfil the promise of Yahweh to the people of Israel as we heard in the first reading of today from Prophet Ezekiel: “My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all.” He is going to lay down his life for the nation. And “it is better that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” From a historical perspective, the death of Jesus will suppress any groupings and rebellion in Israel so that the Romans do not completely take over the rule of Israel. However, from a theological perspective, God keeps his promise. He is willing to die for the sake of his covenant.