Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prophecy and His Passion

"One of them, Caiaphas, the high priest that year, said, 'You don't seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is better for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed.' He did not speak in his own person, it was as high priest that he made this prophecy that Jesus was to die for the nation - and not for the nation only, but to gather together in unity the scattered children of God." (Gospel for Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent) 

I think that this year is the very first time in my whole life that I have not found incongruous St. John's application of the word "prophecy" to Caiaphas' interjection into this conspiratorial gathering and exchange. The boy Daniel shouting out that he would have no part in the stoning of Susannah, yes, but finally and only today also Caiaphas gets a 'yes' to being prophetic in the fullest sense of the word. The high priest for that year, by office, was not predicting, he was teaching as prophets do, laying out or exposing God's plan for His people. Incredible! In my 61st year of earthly life the Evangelist breaks through!

Personally, of course, this has multiple lessons for me. It is a great encouragement to return again and again to the Scriptures for nourishment. There is certainly and much benefit from aiming at outdoing St. Jerome in striving for familiarity with the Holy Writ! St. John in this passage recognizes the teaching authority of the high priest despite his adversarial position to God's Holy and Anointed One! With that lesson, in terms of established authority and my duty to religious obedience without necessarily complicating the equation by scrutinizing somebody's personal moral stature, there is much I and our society could learn to restore civilization and culture.

Fair warning then! My Holy Week this year will be lived or meditated better, I think, in the sense that it has finally dawned upon me just how close the chief priests and Pharisees were to Jesus in this whole drama. St. John not only knew (remember from the Passion according to St. John: "So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in." ) but he taught that the struggle is indeed at close quarters. Not only are a man's enemies those of his own household but sometimes they can even prophesy in God's Name.

St. Jerome insisted that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Others and many teach us to go again and again to the unquenchable source which is God's Word, as written down, as handed down and interpreted by His Church. May we all open our ears and our hearts to Him and to His Word living within His Church! May our Holy Week turn on no few lights and lighten all the dark corners which have not yet understood!

Prophecy? Yes, even from Caiaphas as high priest that year!

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