Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(for the Liturgical Year 2021)

March 27, 2021
Saturday of the fifth week of Lent

1st Reading: Ezekiel 37:21-28

I will bring them back, and I will cleanse them

Say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

They shall never again defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children and their children's children shall live there forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Then the nations shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.

Responsorial: from Jeremiah 31

R./: The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
   proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
   he guards them as a shepherd his flock. (R./)

The Lord shall ransom Jacob,
   he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
   they shall come streaming to the Lord's blessings:
The grain, the wine, and the oil,
   the sheep and the oxen. (R./)

Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
   and young men and old as well.
 I will turn their mourning into joy,
   I will console and gladden them after their sorrows. (R./)

Gospel: John 11:45-56

Caiaphas prophecies that one must die for the people

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, "What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation." But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.

Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?"

The value of giving

What is required in order to gather all the dispersed children of God joined into one family of faith and love, as the prophets foretold, is not that we lose what we have but be willing to share everything. God’s gifts are meant to be shared so that each of us leaves a legacy of good during our time in this life.

To share the best we have is where it pinches. We hardly hesitate to share our superfluous items. Indeed often we are pleased to de-clutter and clean house, give things away in order to have more living space. But the Bible does not want us simply to get rid of outworn things; it calls us to share as one family. Ezekiel, with his eye for practical details, adds that we must be united in politics (one prince), in worship (one sanctuary), and in our sense of belonging (one land).

Jesus interacted with the politics, religion and social customs of his time too. He cured the sick and the handicapped and was prepared to break any religious taboo that held people back from healing and health. His attitude to freedom and equality as children of God was feared as a threat to the status quo, and even to the official priesthood appointed by the Romans. By eating and drinking with non-observant Jews and outsiders, Jesus was turning conventional status upside down.

To fulfil his mission of service to the poor, Jesus seemed to lose everything, even his very life, dying in the most shameful and painful form of execution. But for giving himself without reserve for our sake, he was raised up to glory by God, the all-just, all merciful Father. He who scattered Israel, now gathers them; He guards them as a shepherd guards his flock, turning their mourning into joy, and gladdening them after all their sorrow.