One Man Should Die

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Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 11:45-56
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: I know that my sins and ingratitude can cause a death in our relationship, but Lord, you came that I might have life and have it abundantly. So as the days of your Passion draw near, I give you my heart, and I pray that you fill it with your love and your life; please remain with me.

Encountering Christ:

1. “Began to Believe in Him”: Just prior to this passage of Scripture, Jesus restored Lazarus to life. Among the mourning friends and family, some were so touched by what they witnessed that they believed. Amazingly though, some ran to the authorities to “tell on” Jesus. We too have the choice to believe or betray. We witness great things. We pray, study, and reflect on the life of Jesus. And yet, at times, we too betray Jesus by our sins. Fortunately, he knows our weaknesses, he sees our transgressions, and he always invites us back to complete restoration through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

2. “The Romans Will Come and Take Away…”: Following Jesus can be costly. There are times when he seems to demand sacrifices that take our breath away. Lord, help us to have true courage and to trust you completely—no matter what the cost. We know you are the “pearl of great price,” the “bridegroom,” the “indescribable gift,” the “King of Kings.” Jesus tells us, “there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come” (Mark 10:29-30).

3. “He Will Not Come to the Feast?”: Tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees were rising and everyone sensed it. The Jews gossiped about whether Jesus would attend the Passover feast. They knew nothing of the historical and spiritual significance the next few days would bring. Many would “blindly” cheer the prophet’s entrance to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, and watch his brutal Crucifixion days later. They might have heard whispers about a resurrection, but nevertheless went on with their daily lives. Now, however, they see. How blessed are we to have eyewitness accounts in the Scriptures and countless testimonies of the martyrs and saints to buoy our faith. We know that Jesus was born to die for us so as to redeem us, and he was determined to see it through by facing the consequences of attending that feast. He was, and is, compelled by love.

Conversing with Christ: Reflecting on the beautiful promises of the first reading (Ezekiel 37:21-28) and responsorial psalm (Jeremiah 31) where I read of your intention to protect, provide for, unify, shepherd, and delight your people, and because I know you came to fulfill those promises, it pains me to hear Caiaphas call for your death. Help me to follow your advice in today’s Gospel acclamation: “Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed…and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” Help me be the “one who should die,” by dying to sin. I want to be a disciple with whom you can remain.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will invite you into my heart and together we will shine a light on each one of my excuses, fears, and sins, so that you may heal me, and so I may love and serve you with a pure and peaceful heart.

For Further Reflection: As the time for Jesus’s Passion and Death approach, it may be helpful to reflect on these lines from St. Augustine: “Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new; late have I loved Thee! For behold Thou were within me, and I outside; and I sought Thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that Thou hast made. Thou were with me and I was not with Thee. I was kept from Thee by those things, yet had they not been in Thee, they would not have been at all. Thou didst call and cry to my and break open my deafness: and Thou didst send forth Thy beams and shine upon me and chase away my blindness: Thou didst breathe fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and do not pant for Thee: I tasted Thee, and now hunger and thirst for Thee: Thou didst touch me, and I have burned for Thy peace.”

written by Mary Wolff

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