(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?”
To be in a position of power and authority is not only to enjoy its perks and privileges. Ones has to wrestle too with many considerations to preserve peace, to preserve one’s status, to uphold the rights of persons and the likes. It is a delicate balancing act of service, of self-preservation and respect of the individual. Sometimes, the stakes are so high that one or the other must be sacrificed. Thus we can sympathize with the Jewish Council called by the chief priests and Pharisees to deal with the Jesus movement that is now gaining traction. They must make a decision whether they will allow Him to amass such followings that would merit Rome’s attention and intervention. For them, the survival of their faith and nation is at stake. They did not how ever articulate that the survival of their own institutions is also in peril. Thus condemning Jesus to death for the seemingly greater good would be easy.
How many times do leaders select reasons for their actions that seem legitimate and holy in that particular situation while conveniently sweeping aside their self-serving interest? They would like to think that people owe them a great debt for doing so when in reality it is they who gained the most. This self-deception may totally convince them but those who can see through their motives will not allow truth to be diluted.
Fr. Paulson V. Veliyannoor, CMF