Sunday Vigil

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Memorial of blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a martyr who was killed on the altar while celebrating the Eucharist in 1980. Memory of the massacre of the Fosse Ardeatine in 1944 in Rome when 335 people were killed by the Nazi.


Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 11,45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. 'Here is this man working all these signs,' they said, 'and what action are we taking? If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and suppress the Holy Place and our nation.' One of them, Caiaphas, the high priest that year, said, 'You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish.' He did not speak in his own person, but as high priest of that year he was prophesying that Jesus was to die for the nation- and not for the nation only, but also to gather together into one the scattered children of God. From that day onwards they were determined to kill him. So Jesus no longer went about openly among the Jews, but left the district for a town called Ephraim, in the country bordering on the desert, and stayed there with his disciples. The Jewish Passover was drawing near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves were looking out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, 'What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?'

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This Gospel passage, which immediately follows the resurrection of Lazarus, is meant to prepare us for the celebration of the holy week of the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The high priests understood that the miracle of Lazarus' resurrection was such an extraordinary event that it could cause Jesus' movement to grow out of control. And at that point it would be easy for their power to crumble. Indeed, what was happening was analogous to what had happened at Jesus' birth, when Herod tried to kill the baby out of fear that he might threaten his throne. Once again people decide to kill Jesus. Caiaphas makes a solemn pronouncement before the entire assembly: "It is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." Without realizing what he was doing, he revealed the truest and deepest meaning of the mystery of Jesus, the one saviour of the world. In effect, Jesus' death would knock down the walls that divided people, moving history in a new direction, towards the unity of nations. The decision to kill that young prophet was made in that assembly. Once again, Jesus withdraws and goes to Ephraim with his disciples. It is time for prayer and reflection. The community had to grow in communion, strengthen their bonds of friendship and fraternity, and, above all, grow in their faith towards their Teacher. Jesus knew how important it was to gather his disciples together and reinforce their faith, especially at that moment. He spent a great deal of energy teaching them and encouraging them to remain steadfast on the path of love in order to overcome fear and the temptation to close in on themselves. Jesus tied to hide as to avoid that the crowds, who had learned to recognize him, gathered. But so many people were eager to see him, to speak to him, and to touch him that many of the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem for Passover came to the temple to see him. The crowd's eagerness to see Jesus is an invitation for us in these days not to leave the side of this teacher who "has done everything well."