Saturday, April 13, 2019
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” John 11:49-50
As in the previous day’s reflection, it’s important for us to start putting our focus on the suffering and death of Jesus. Holy Week begins this Sunday, so this is the time of year when God wants us to look intently at His Cross. It’s important to look at it from all angles, to try to understand what was going on, what Jesus was experiencing, what the disciples were experiencing and even what the Pharisees and high priests were experiencing.
In today’s Gospel quoted above we see the thinking of Caiaphas, the high priest. His words are interesting in that they are both sad and prophetic at the same time. He, along with the other chief priests and the Pharisees, were beginning to plan and plot Jesus’ death. But what’s insightful is the apparent motivation of Caiaphas and the others.
Jesus was gaining popularity and they were afraid that this popularity would stir things up with the Romans. They were also jealous that Jesus had attracted so many. So Caiaphas offers the twisted logic that it’s better that one man die rather than all of the people. In other words, he appeared to think that because Jesus was becoming so popular, and the people were listening to Jesus more than they were to the chief priests and Pharisees, that it was better to eliminate the “problem” so that things could return to the way they were.
This reveals the fact that the Pharisees were more concerned about themselves and their status than they were about the Truth. It’s amazing that one of their criticisms of Jesus was that He was doing too many signs and wonders. How strange. If the chief priests and Pharisees were interested in the Truth, they would have also seen the glory and divine authority of Jesus and come to believe in Him and followed Him. But they couldn’t swallow their pride and accept the call to follow someone other than themselves. They couldn’t let go of their position of authority.
We often see this same experience in our daily lives. We want to be the center of attention. And so often when we see someone else do well or receive praise we can get jealous. And our jealousy can often turn into a form of envy. Envy means we are angered and saddened by the goodness of another. We can brew over it and want to see them fail.
The ideal is to be one of those faithful followers of Jesus. This is especially important to ponder this coming week as you witness the hostility grow toward our Lord. What would you do if you were there? Would you continue to stand with Jesus despite the attacks of others? As the hostility toward Jesus grew, would you back away from Him or grow closer to Him in love and commitment?
Reflect, today, upon the coming commemoration of the persecution of our Lord. Let your mind begin to ponder the many reactions and experiences people had that first Holy Week. Put yourself in their shoes and try to live it with Jesus. The goal is to find ourselves there at the foot of the Cross with Him on Good Friday with love and courage, standing by Him and loving Him every step of the way.
Lord, may I follow You this coming Holy Week. May I have the love I need to love You even in Your rejection and pain. Help me to shed all envy and selfishness and to see You especially in the sufferings of others and in their goodness. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Martin I