April 4, 2009
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he 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?"
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you today in faith, hope and love. I thank you for this opportunity to pray and meditate. Accept my effort and bless it with spiritual fruit.
Petition: Father, enlighten my mind with your Holy Spirit, so that I can grasp something of the love your son Jesus as shown to me.
1. It Is Better for You That One Man Die.
Caiphas utters an execrable version of the “end-justifies-the-means” approach to moral reflection, producing a seamless rationalization of the worst evil in human history. Yet on another level, how true it is that Jesus’ death is the source of our life! Holy Week begins tomorrow. May we truly pray and meditate on the salvation that is won for us at an infinite price.
2. Gathering into One.
Unity and charity express the highest ideals of Catholicism. Our Church is that gathering of the “dispersed children of God.” During Holy Week, let us pray fervently that the unity that Christ wishes for the Church, for which he earnestly implored the Father at the Last Supper (“That they be one!”), will be renewed through the living of these holy mysteries. We need to pray for unity in the faith, that we will all support Christ’s Vicar, Benedict XVI, in his ministry of proclaiming the truth of the precious gift of our faith. We need to pray for greater charity, that our words will reflect that respect Christ wishes for his disciples, and that all our dealings will carry the seal of authentic love.
3. Our Sins Will Crucify Him.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and we will read the Passion narrative during Mass. We need to live this liturgy in a very personal way. Our own sins have far more to do with Christ on the cross than Caiphas’ machinations. Shouldn’t this provoke deep awe and wonder? Christ loved us personally and gave himself over to death so that we might not suffer eternal death. Let us do everything we can to make sure that his sacrifice is not wasted.
Dialogue with Christ: Lord, I cannot even begin to fathom the depth of your love. You have saved me from sin and given me a new life. Instead of death, I look forward to the resurrection. Help me to persevere in your grace!
Resolution: I will spend a few minutes contemplating the crucifix so as to prepare my soul for Holy Week.
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