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I Know You Are Near
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” 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.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him. So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. 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?”
Opening Prayer: Lord, bless me and enlighten me as I read this Gospel. I want to come to know you better, and love you more today than I did yesterday.
- Silence: Today’s Gospel does not have any spoken words by Jesus. The only action shared by John is that Jesus decided not to appear in public anymore and left for another region. Some began to ask themselves, “Will he not come to the feast?” At times in our life, Jesus seems to disappear and all we hear are the grumblings of other voices that tell us, “Jesus is not relevant. Jesus does not care anymore. Jesus has other things to think about.” When we read the Scriptures, we know that this is not true. “He is still about his Father’s business.” Faith is not merely the feeling that God is present. It is an assurance that God is with us at all times in all circumstances.
- Threat to Power: Why was the Sanhedrin worried? They thought that Jesus had become a threat. They worried that people would follow Jesus and incite the Romans to take away their nation. They wanted to retain their power over the Jews. How ironic! Jesus never threatens their power. His operating principle is love. When we follow Jesus, we lose only what’s not good for us and, in the end, we find our true selves.
- God Uses Everything: Our Lord put prophetic words in the mouth of Caiphas, the high priest, who said, “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.” No one in the room saw the real truth in those words. In fact, they began to plan to kill Jesus. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can marvel at this and appreciate how God can communicate to us in the most unexpected ways. As believers, we look for God in every situation.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, strengthen my faith. You are continually sharing yourself with me. Sometimes I can feel your closeness and sometimes I cannot. Build my faith so that I can trust in your presence in all circumstances of my life. Your love for me does not increase or decrease. You always love me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will say this prayer throughout the day: “Jesus, I thank you for being present right now.”
For Further Reflection: The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.
Father Joshua West is a Legionary of Christ priest serving as chaplain at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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