Daily Reflection
March 27th, 1999
Mary Haynes Kuhlman
English Department
Ezekiel 37:21-28
Jeremiah 31:10-13
John 11:45-57

All of the readings for today speak of anticipation, looking forward to something big that is coming to bring us together.  "He who scattered Israel will gather him," says Jeremiah.  "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," promises the Lord God in Ezekiel.  And today's Gospel includes a prophecy that Jesus will "gather into one the dispersed children of God."

Events usually do bring us together -- weddings, funerals, tournaments, graduations.  We look forward to the happy ones, like parties and trips, and we "can't wait."  But even when we expect to be happy, to enjoy the event, the anticipation may include some anxiety and tension.  All the getting ready, having the clothes or the food, making arrangements or decisions, preparing go places, see people or say certain lines -- all these come with looking forward to something important to us.  It can tighten us up with responsibility and concern: Anticipation.

Here in today's Gospel, having raised Lazarus, Jesus has become dangerous to the "chief priests and the Pharisees," with their particular responsibilities and concerns; they fear the Romans, and Caiaphas, knowing that something big is coming, prophesies that Jesus will "die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God." This Gospel is ominous.  It's death and Good Friday and the Way of the Cross and the Crucifixion that loom ahead.  Anticipation -- threatening.

Suspense builds in a good story, even if we know how the story comes out.  We "can't wait" and thrill with the anticipation even though we already know Odysseus does return to Penelope, Rhett leaves Scarlett, and the Titanic sinks.  As Christians in March of 1999, we know how the story will come out -- Holy Week is about to begin, Easter is around the corner.  But today we feel the suspense; Jesus "no longer walked about openly among the Jews," and the high priests and Pharisees are looking for him "so that they might arrest him."  How must Jesus have felt, anticipating arrest, even anticipating death?  It's anticipation as menace!

Our anticipation, our expectations for the coming Holy Week are happy indeed.  For us the Crucifixion and Resurrection bring joy, but today we can be with the people in the Gospel who "were looking for Jesus."  We too are "dispersed children of God."  We too long to be gathered together (or, as we often say, to be able to "get it together").   Amidst our scattered thoughts and scattered papers, we want to end this exile and come back home.

And this Gospel of impending menace also tells us how to get it together.  In earlier chapters Jesus was seen in signs and wonders, teachings and healings and even life-restoring.  But today, as something big draws near (our very Salvation), he is with his disciples, those who have chosen to follow him.

Lord, let me look for you today, and let me find you among your disciples.  Bring us together, and give us anticipation as hope.

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