"You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish." - Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador (1917 – 1980 - Speaking to a reporter, days before his murder)
Gospel Text: (JN 11:45-56)
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?”
In today’s gospel 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.