God’s Place in Our Hearts
April 1st Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Today’s Gospel sets the stage for the Passion of Christ, which we shall hear at Mass tomorrow as we begin Holy Week. The Sanhedrin in today’s Gospel saw that many people were coming to believe in Jesus after witnessing His many miracles. The high priest Caiaphas prophesied Christ’s Death: “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.” St. John tells us that “from that day on, [the chief priests and Pharisees] planned to kill [Jesus].”
St. Augustine pointed out that the Sanhedrin was worried about losing temporal things. They did not express their concern at this point that Christ was a false prophet or a blasphemer; they simply fretted that by letting more disciples follow Jesus, “the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” Caiaphas’s prophecy was true despite his being an evil man. Jesus gave His life so that the human race might not perish in its sinfulness. The Fathers of the Church explained that just as God uses everything—even the worst evil—for good, so too He had the power to prophecy through the same high priest who would sentence Him to death. In the words of St. Paul, “[A]ll things work together unto good…according to [H]is promise” (Rom 8:28 DRB). Caiaphas’s prophecy made the Sanhedrin firm in their resolve to kill Jesus.
Today’s Gospel prepares us for the readings we shall hear at Mass tomorrow for Palm Sunday. The Mass will begin with Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and we will imitate the people of Jerusalem in greeting Him with praise on our lips and palms in our hands. “All glory, laud, and honour to Thee, Redeemer King!”—but just a few moments later, we will hear St. Matthew’s account of Christ’s Passion and Death.
As we repeat the same words that the crowds cried before Pilate—“Let [H]im be crucified!”—we will be powerfully reminded that we are not unlike those people who wanted Jesus put to death. Every time we commit a mortal sin, we crucify Jesus once again. I recall a quote I once heard saying that while the Roman soldiers were the first to drive nails into Christ’s hands and feet, we continue to do so through our sins. The Gospel today reminds us that we do this by making temporal things take the place of God in our lives. The Sanhedrin was willing to kill Jesus to avoid conflict with the Romans; Judas was willing to kill Jesus to gain thirty pieces of silver. Every time we choose to sin, we are making something else take priority over God in our hearts.
During this last week of Lent, may we pray for the grace to love God with all our hearts and never permit anything to take His place in our lives.
Have a very blessed Holy Week!