Ezra 37:21-28 / Jeremiah 31:10-13 / John 11:45-56
The readings for mass today speak of unity, not division. In the first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, God says he wants to heal his people from their sins and divisions and make of them a single nation. “I will make them one nation upon the land…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.”
He goes on to say “I will deliver them from all their sins….there shall be one shepherd for them all…I will make with them a covenant of peace…and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people….it is I, the Lord, who make Israel holy when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.”
These verses in the old testament scriptures speak of how deeply God loves us, His people. He loves us through the ages and has formed us into a people all His own, not just with the children of Israel, but also in the present time in the life of the Catholic church. These readings clearly describes God’s intent to save his people from their sins, heal all divisions and bring us together as one body, as one people throughout the world. God meant for us to have one leader, and we do. Our new Pope Francis continues to lead us as one people, a people consecrated to the Lord throughout the world.
God’s covenant truly is an everlasting covenant, because thousands of years later His sanctuary remains firm and will indeed remain firm forever. This is something concrete we can depend on for the rest of our lives. We are all part of the universal church throughout the world, no matter where we live or what the circumstances of our lives are. Even the responsorial psalm today confirms God’s plans of unity for his people when it says “He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together.” God gathers all of us into one people.
This unity is what disturbed the chief priests and Pharisees in the gospel today. They were afraid Jesus would draw all the people to Him and jeopardize their lands and their very nation itself. But, the high priest Caiaphas was open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, when 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.”
Jesus knew they were trying to kill him and his time was near though. There was not much time left and he wanted to spend the time that he had left with the people he loved the most, his disciples. Wouldn’t we want to do the same if we knew we only had a day or two left to live? That is something to think about today, because life really is short. We hear that all the time, but if this was your last day on earth, how would you spend it? Who would you want to call? Who would you visit? Is there anything you would want to do for your family while you still had the time to do so?
Today might be a good day to think about it. We should call the people we love, maybe visit someone that we haven’t seen in a while. We should live in the present moment today but be aware of our own mortality and more aware of the people we love.
This is also a good day to set things right before the Lord and go to confession, if we have not already done so.