A core group within the leadership of Israel have decided. They will not deny themselves, their power, prestige, their place. They will not take up their cross and follow Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. They will not allow the teaching and momentum of the growing number of those following Jesus to continue unchecked. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council, will follow the guiding words of their president, the high priest, Caiaphas, “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” (Jn 11:49-50). With these words, they began to plan how to put to death the carpenter of Nazareth.

With the words of Caiaphas, the sun began to set on the life of Jesus. These words even effect us still today as they usher in the sunset of our Lenten observance. The gift of our liturgical readings allows us to relive the story of our faith. Lent has given us a time to reflect, to meditate on who Jesus is. Do we see nothing in the Gospel messages that lead us to believe he is more than just a carpenter, another teacher from the past, or do we agree with Jesus’ pronouncement that he is fully God and fully man? Do we see his teachings and life as a threat as did the Sanhedrin? Do we also decide we like our life the way it is, that we do not want Jesus to get in our home and start turning over the tables and disrupting our comfort? Instead, do the Gospels inspire us to shake off our complacency, our indifference, our cynicism, so to be inspired to acknowledge our sins, to repent, to begin anew?

May we set aside some time this Saturday before we enter tomorrow into the readings of the Passion to meditate on the words of Caiaphas, “consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish” (Jn 11:49-50). He did not know what he proclaimed would be so true, that the one, Jesus, would die, not only so the nation would not perish, but that all humanity would not perish. Jesus died for you and for me that we might have life and have it to the full. Will we follow Jesus, deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow him into Holy Week?

———

Photo: California sunset

Link for the Mass readings for Saturday, March 24, 2018:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032418.cfm

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