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?”
11:47 the council: The Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews. Though many reasons underlie their conspiracy against Jesus (11:53), the raising of Lazarus was particularly insulting to the Sadducees, who did not believe such a thing was possible in the first place (Acts 23:6–8).
11:48 the Romans will come: The statement is brimming with historical irony. The Romans did in fact destroy both Jerusalem and its Temple in a.d. 70, not because the Jewish authorities let Jesus continue his ministry in peace, but precisely because they condemned him to a violent death. In the end, it was not the acceptance of Jesus that threatened the city but the rejection of him that made its demise inevitable (CCC 596–97, 1753). our holy place: A reference to the Temple or to Jerusalem more generally (Acts 6:13; 21:28).
11:49 Caiaphas: The high priest of Israel from a.d. 18 to 36. As such, he was the recognized head of the Jewish “council” (11:47).
11:51 he prophesied: Caiaphas unwittingly announces that Jesus will die for the salvation of the nation. This is not his own insight, but the grace of prophecy speaking through him in virtue of his priestly office and position as chief teacher of Israel.
11:52 the children of God: Recalls the “other sheep” that Jesus promised to gather into his “one flock” (10:16). It indicates that Christ calls to himself not only Israelites living in the land of Judea, but Israelites and Gentiles who are scattered throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond (Is 43:5–7; 66:18–21; Jer 31:10). The gospel of Christ thus reunifies the human family by gathering believers from every nation into the divine family of God (CCC 706, 2793).
11:54 Ephraim: A village of uncertain location, but probably north of Jerusalem in the lower region of Samaria.
11:55 the Passover: The third mention of this feast in John (2:13; 6:4). to purify themselves: Jews underwent a process of ritual purification before the Passover, since it was forbidden to celebrate the festival in a state of ceremonial uncleanness (Num 9:9–11; 2 Chron 30:18–21).
Since the Passover was the most solemn Jewish feast, the people used to arrive in Jerusalem some days in advance to prepare for it by washings, fasts and offerings—practices established not by the Mosaic law but by popular piety; the rites of the Passover itself, with the sacrificing of the lamb, were a rite of purification and expiation for sins. The Passover of the Jews was a figure of the Christian Pasch or Easter, for as St Paul the Apostle teaches us, our paschal lamb is Christ who offered himself once and for all to the eternal Father on the cross to atone for our sins.
Saint Josemaria Escrivá in his book Christ Is Passing By, asks us: “If the Jews prepared to celebrate the Passover with all these rites and ablutions, it would seem obvious what steps we should take to celebrate or participate in the Mass and to receive Christ—our Pasch—in the Eucharist. On this earth, when we receive an important person, we bring out the best lights, music, and formal dress. How should we prepare to receive Christ into our soul? Have we ever thought about how we would behave if we could only receive him once in a lifetime?”
As we reflect on the coming Holy Week, let us be mindful of how we prepare to meet Christ in the blessed Eucharistic celebration.
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.