Saturday of the Fifth Week
I remember today, Lord, all those who have helped me to know you better. I offer thanks for their witness, and ask you to fill them still further with your gifts. Paul Nicholson SJ
Entering into prayer
Choose a way to enter into prayer from earlier in Lent or any method that you prefer.
Today's Scripture (John 11: 45-57)
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, ‘What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?’ Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
Food for Thought
Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead and the people are naturally impressed. The Pharisees fear a mass movement and imagine Roman reprisals that might destroy their holy places. We meet Caiaphas, the high priest, guardian of the holy places. He is a useful recruit to the work of getting rid of Jesus. He offers the argument of sacrifice saying, ‘it is better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed’. This is another twist to the truth and the evangelist points out that the nation in question comes from bringing together in unity the scattered children of the whole world.
Jesus knows that they are determined to kill him as there is no way they are going to get him to change his teaching, but he still has things to do so he goes somewhere people are not likely to look for him – a town called Ephraim in another district. He will return when it suits God’s plan, and not before.
Suggestions for Prayer
The situation is chilling. Those who wish to kill Jesus have a watertight case, their logic is above question and they will achieve their ends by proceeding through legal channels. How did we get to this point?
In the ‘Meditation on Two Standards’ in the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius warns us that we can get caught in this way. Temptations are subtle and one small thing leads to another. Nobody wants to wind up enslaved by evil, but it happens just the same. Saul thought he was doing a good job by persecuting Christians, it took a dramatic miracle to put him right, but at least it worked. We are told that pharaoh’s heart was hardened so that even the plagues would not let him release the people of Israel, although they got away just the same. Jesus’ death on the cross will not stop Christianity catching on like a spark on tinder and what Ignatius calls ‘the enemy of our human nature’ cannot succeed in binding me to sin if I am bound to the love of God.
Have you ever had a gift thrown back in your face, or treated with contempt? How did that make you feel? Think about or visualise all the things that God has given you: the beauty of the world, the excitement of human learning and understanding, the healing of hurts, the consolation of the good news, your own gifts and strength. Reflect on these things. Ignatius said somewhere that it is impossible for a grateful person to sin, but it is very easy to get into the habit of finding fault and noticing what is wrong instead of holding on to gratitude wherever possible. A good way to keep up your spirit of gratitude is to make a habit of the examen.
How are you going to respond today?
Thank God for three good things that have happened today, and try to do that every day.
Image for the Day
- How do you feel about this picture?
- Do you find this image helpful, or a little scary?
- How do you think Lazarus, his friends and family reacted to this scene?
Examen (review of prayer)
Try to focus on gratitude in your review of your prayer and your day.