In today’s Gospel reading, the Sanhedrin, shaken up by news that Jesus raised someone from the dead, and that more and more people believe in Him, decide that they need to get rid of Him. The high priest Caiaphas unwittingly prophesies how Jesus will save His people by saying to the other members, “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.”
The Sanhedrin acted out of fear. They were afraid that if all the people believed in Jesus that the Romans would intervene and take away everything. You could say that they embraced the death of Jesus instead of new life in Him, for fear of losing their old life as it was.
Are we hesitant to embrace fully new life in Christ out of fear of losing our old life in which we feel comfortable? That is not meant to be an easy question. To let Jesus into our hearts and live on a deeper level may bring a change we may not be ready to accept.
But if we believe in the One who lived, suffered and died, to set us free, and rose again to give us the promise of everlasting life, we can place our trust in Him that any change that may come from putting Him more and more at the center of our lives will be one that will be life-giving, instead of death-dealing. We can trust that embracing Jesus will not only bring us closer to Him, but even closer to the ones closest to us, and closer to the rest of the world.
As we come to the end of this Lenten season, may the prophecy of Ezekiel come to fulfillment in us: “My dwelling shall be with them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is on staff at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.