Scripture: 1st Reading: Ezek37,21-28; Resp. Psalm: Jer31,10,11-13; Gosp. Accl.: Ezek18,31; Gospel: Jn11,45-57
The best message after a long period of tribulation, sufferings, missteps, desolation and distress is one that promises a new beginning, restoration, renewal, growth, abundance, prosperity, return to past glory or even a new glory that surpasses the one lost. When such message comes to a nation or a people, and such message is from the One who has the power to do so, then the joy of a desolate people knows no bounds.
Israel was promised a new beginning. The God who loved His people sent His prophet to tell them that He would gather them from the nations where they had scattered as a punishment for their sins. He would bring them back to their land and make them one nation again with one king ruling over them. God promised to cleanse His people of their sins, make them His people and be their God.
God promised that David would rule over them. It is clear that at the time this prophecy was being made, David was already dead hundreds of years before. This prophecy was therefore not about David but about an offspring of David. With this offspring as king, God promised an everlasting covenant of peace with His people.
With this offspring on the throne of David, God promised: "I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore."
God remembered His people. He decided to act. That promise was brought to fulfillment through Jesus Christ our Lord. Today, in the gospel passage, the highest council of Israel, the chief priests and the Pharisees met to consider how to deal with our Lord. They knew the power our Lord had over the consciences of the people. They knew the power contained in His words, which He accompanied with great signs and wonders.
They were afraid everyone would come to believe in Him. They alleged that the Romans would come and destroy their holy place and their nation because of the personality of Jesus and His followership. They ascribed political undertones to the mission of our Lord. What we know however, is that they were more concerned about the loss of power authority and influence that a potential Roman invasion would cause.
They were thinking of themselves. Unfortunately, years after the death of our Lord, the same Romans did as the council of Israel had predicted today. To avert the spurious scenario they had constructed about a possible Roman invasion, Caiaphas suggested that it was better for one man to die for the people rather than the whole nation to perish.
From the events of His life and the mission He came to accomplish on earth, this became a prophecy that "Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." In this important council meeting of the Jewish authorities, they concluded to put our Lord to death. Our Lord, knowing this, no longer went about openly among the Jews. From that meeting, the chief priests and the Pharisees gave orders "that if any one knew where He was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest Him." (Jn11,57)
His life is ebbing away. The clock is ticking. Every second that ticks brings Him closer to His hour. He knew He was going to pay the supreme price for our salvation. He knew He would die a shameful, ignominious death. Yet, He accepted His death since it was the will of His Father.
As we move towards Holy Week, which begins tomorrow, let us learn from our Lord's patience and forbearance. Let us learn from His sense of mission in spite of the attendant sufferings He had to endure. Let us be thankful.
Let us pray: "O God, who have made all those reborn in Christ a chosen race and a royal priesthood, grant us, we pray, the grace to will and to do what you command, that the people called to eternal life may be one in the faith of their hearts and the homage of their deeds." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Rev. Fr. Anthony Igbekele