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A deadly division
In our daily lives, the same event brings joy to one person and causes sadness to the other. It all depends on our perception. We can see a similar effect in today’s Gospel. The raising of Lazarus from death created a division among people. Some of them believed in Jesus. The others reported it to the Pharisees.
It is surprising that people reported only the fact that Jesus performed a miracle. They focused on the material aspect of the miracle without mentioning anything about Jesus’ teaching around it. They neglected to tell about Jesus’ self-revelation as the resurrection and the life. They also forgot to refer to his prayer on their account so that they might believe him as the One sent by the Father. From that partial report, the chief priests and the Pharisees considered Jesus to be merely a miracle-worker. His performance of many signs worried them greatly. Their only concern was that everyone would believe in Jesus because of his attractiveness. And as a result, they would lose their land and nation because of the Romans. But within that common fear, one person was singled out: Caiaphas, the high priest of that memorable year. He accused others of not being able to think correctly.
Even in his honorable function, Caiaphas did not really know what he was saying. His words, however, became prophetic. According to his prophecy, the whole nation would profit from Jesus’ self-sacrifice. By using an irony, the evangelist John put into the mouth of Jesus’ enemy the words that explain the Savior’s mission: He came to give his life in ransom for many. John, however, was not completely satisfied with Caiaphas’ own words. He extended them by specifying the ultimate meaning of Jesus’ death: it was a benefit not only for Israel, but also for the whole world. Through his death, all the dispersed children would be gathered into one. And so, the death of a single person became the cause of the unity of the multitude. But before realizing such a great plan, Jesus withdrew into a region near the desert called Ephraim.
Unlike the other evangelists who mentioned that Jesus was in the desert before his public ministry, John talked about Jesus’ presence in a town near the wilderness before his Passion. This precision implies that Jesus wanted to spend time, in a separated place, with his disciples before their journey to Jerusalem. He would certainly go to Jerusalem to endure his Passion, but he would do it in his own way and whenever he decided. In John, Jesus is resolutely free in the realization of the salvific plan.
What effect does this story have on me? The way the story influences me points to my relationship with Jesus. It shows who I really am: the one who believes in his miracles and the teaching around them; the one who gives a partial report about his work; the one who talks about him without understanding his mission; or the one who spends time with him at a critical moment.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to become the person you want me to be.
Resolution: Find my own “Ephraim” to prepare myself spiritually before the Holy Week.