5th Week of Lent, Saturday, Apr 4th

Ezekiel 37:21-28 / John 11:45-56 
Jesus does remarkable things: Many people put their trust in him.

There’s a scene in My Fair Lady in which Eliza Doolittle grows weary of Freddy’s daily letters, telling her how much he loves her. In a burst of frustration, she begins to sing the song “Show Me.” In the song she says she’s sick of words. She’s sick of all this talk of stars “burning above.” “If there’s really any love burning in your heart, show me.” (adapted). Jesus had done everything he could do to show the Jews his love for them. Some Jews eventually saw it and “began to believe in him”; many others did not.
How do we respond when people reject our best efforts to show them how much we love them? “Love is patient.... It bears all things ... endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7
Whenever the word "prophecy" is mentioned, we are inclined to think that it is something about the future, a fore-telling of sort. In many ways, what the prophet Ezekiel and the high priest Caiaphas said in today's readings had a bearing on the future. Yet the more fundamental and important aspect of prophecy is the "forth-telling", meaning to say, the bearing on the present.

And precisely, the prophet Ezekiel was also doing that. He was not talking about something that will only happen in the future. He was talking about something that was already happening during his time - that God will gather His people, and He will be their God and they will be His people.

Similarly when Caiaphas said those words "it is better for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed (and not for the nation only, but to gather together in unity the scattered children of God).

That is one of the most profound prophesies at that time and also for the present. During this time of Lent, we undertake fasting and penances to subdue our bodily desires and also offer up our sacrifices in union with Jesus. All this is done not just for our own benefit but also for the Church and the world in reparation for sins committed. Let us continue to do penance and offer up our sacrifices with love so that with Jesus we gather together in unity the scattered children of God.

At a time of the purifying trial of the exile, Ezekiel preaches God’s utopian dream: Israel will be gathered into one: one nation, one land, one sanctuary, ruled by one shepherd and servant king under one God in a covenant of peace.
After the resurrection of Lazarus, the cynical high priest and leaders decide to put embarrassing troublemaker Jesus to death for opportunistic reasons of state. But John, and Christians with him, realize that Jesus’ death for the sake of all will ultimately unify us all in his kingdom.
We are today still scattered and divided tribes, within the Church and outside it. Is unity for us utopia or a firm hope? Do we realize it can be attained only by respect, love and sacrifice?

Penitential Rite
-       As you gather us from all sides and make us your Church, beyond our divisions, LHM
-       As you deliver us from our sins, and cleanse us so that we may be my people, CHM
-       As you make with us a covenant of peace; an everlasting covenant with us, LHM

Opening Prayer
Lord God, creator and Father of all, your sons and daughters
are still scattered and divided: Christians and non-Christians,
various Churches and sects claiming exclusive rights on your Son, and each of them full of factions. Make us dream again the dream which you alone can make possible: that we can all be one if we believe and follow him who died to unite all that is scattered, Jesus Christ, our Lord for ever.

These are the promises of God to bring together his people and bring them back home, cleansing them from their evil and sin, giving them a shepherd and a place to live in peace, and where he can put his sanctuary among them forever. And God will make Israel holy in the sight of all the nations. This is what God has done for his people and it is what will be done for all of us in Jesus, in ways we could never have imagined.
Jesus has brought Lazarus back to life and people believe in him and there is dissension and sharp division over Jesus' person, his works and his words-and yet no matter what he does (and it is always about life) there are those who are intent on killing him, silencing him so that their collusion with Rome might continue. So it is better that Jesus dies for the people-again in a way they could never have conceived. And they plan to kill him. Where do we stand? In collusion with politics, economics, nationalistic policy, military might that uses religion when it serves their purposes, or do we stand with Jesus who is only and always life, ever more abundantly for everyone?

Points to Ponder
The prophecy of Caiaphas
Ezekiel’s vision of restoration
A populace divided over Christ
Belief and betrayal.

General Intercessions
–   That our world may become one in seeking peace for all, with access for all nations to the goods of our world and respect and understanding for every people on earth, we pray:
–   That the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus may bring together the divided and scattered Churches, we pray:
–   That our communities may be find unity in prayer, sharing and mutual service, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, you have called us together at the table of your Son. Unite us in him, make us one of heart and mind, that we may become to a divided world a sign that unity is possible when we can meet in Christ Jesus, your Son and our Lord for ever.

Prayer after Communion
Lord, our God and Father, you want us to become one under Christ, our shepherd and servant. May we learn from him to be servants of love and truth and to sacrifice our clannish interests for the sake of the good of all. Under the guidance of your Son may we truly be your people and you our God for ever and ever.

How far we are still from the ideal of one heart and one mind, be it in our world, our Churches, our communities. May God bring his scattered children together and bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.