Ezekiel 37:21-28; John 11:45-56
On the cusp of Holy Week, today’s readings give us some hint of what the new creation, which we’ll celebrate at the Easter Vigil, actually looks like. We will be one. In the readings from Ezekiel and the psalm from Jeremiah, we hear God promising to gather the scattered remnants of Israel, and in the Gospel, John, interpreting the high priest’s comments, sees Jesus gathering “into one the dispersed children of God”. In both readings it is God who acts. Plainly we can’t do it ourselves. Humans divide. It is God who unifies. What we need to hear and understand is that unity is what God wants. Though we can’t do it ourselves, we certainly can impede it, and we desperately need to understand how doing that would be completely contrary to God’s will.
Think of the ways we divide – all variants of “us” and “them”: white and black, immigrant and native-born, gay and straight, rich and poor, Protestant and Catholic, liberal and conservative, clerical and lay. . . the list is endless. These kinds of divisions are ingrained in our psyches – in our biology even. That’s why what Jesus has done is to make something totally new – totally different.
This is not to suggest that these distinctions are trivial, nor that we can abolish them by willing it. But they're not as important as the equality and unity of the new creation, which has to be given precedence whenever there seems to be conflict with the new creating that God is doing. It's important to remember that we humans use these divisions for dominance. But there is no dominance in the new creation. There is, instead, only self-giving. Recall Paul: “Neither Jew or Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female”. And Jesus, in his prayer to the Father at the last supper, asks God that: “they may be one, as you Father and I are one – so that the world may believe you sent me…..
“So that the world may believe. . . ” Division doesn’t manifest God. We, as Church, do not show God’s presence so long as we are divided. In just one week we will celebrate – not just remember, but actually relive – that new creating. It is well to keep this emphasis on unity uppermost in our minds and hearts as we approach that holy day.
By Robert P. Heaney