Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 37:21-28 + John 11:45-56
So from that day on they planned to kill him.
This morning’s Gospel Reading bears a sense of anxious anticipation. Its final verse leaves us on the edge of our pew: “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?’”
Just a few verses before, St. John the Evangelist explains the reason for the heightened sense of anxiety: “So from that day on they planned to kill him.” The motive for this plan of the chief priests and Pharisees is the focus of this morning’s three readings.
Both this morning’s First Reading and Responsorial Psalm come from books of Old Testament prophets: the First Reading, from Ezekiel; and the Psalm, from Jeremiah. Both look to Israel’s future, when a shepherd king would reign over a united Israel. The Responsorial is very strong in describing this shepherd
Yet the language of king is only implied, although in two ways. First, Ezekiel prophesies about Israel being restored to one kingdom. However, second and more intriguingly, Ezekiel prophesies that “there shall be one prince for them all”: not one “king”, but one “prince”. Twice in the verses that follow, Ezekiel identities David as this prince. Through the prophet the Lord declares: “My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all”; in the Holy Land, Israel shall dwell “with my servant David their prince forever.”
Everything that Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesy about this shepherd king is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. More specifically, Jesus fulfills His earthly mission as Christ the King upon the Cross on Good Friday. Jesus is drawing close to “His hour”. Through the New Passover—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—we are able to enter into Jesus’ life and saving mission.