SATURDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT APRIL 4, 2020
Gospel 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?”
REFLECTION : “Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves.”
Let us not forget traditions of the Jewish people during Passover. The Jewish people make sure they clean not only themselves, but also their homes. In order to ensure they stay faithful and follow their guiding laws, they totally clean their homes of any food containing grains that have been fermented or risen, better known as chametz. On the night before Passover, some Jewish families practice the “search and destroy” of chametz by placing ten pieces of bread throughout their home. They traditionally use a candle, a wooden spoon, a feather and a paper bag to find and collect the “hidden” chametz. The search is performed while praying special prayers during and after collecting the chametz. The bag containing the chametz must be burned before Passover. As you can imagine, the children enjoy this very game-like search to honor their God.
Even so, this tradition is taken very seriously. The Jews literally search out every crumb possible, eating or selling bread in order to rid their homes of any leavened product. They burn off food from cooking surfaces and cooking utensils in order to ensure no residue is left behind before cooking for the Passover. They use special utensils and pots to cook their holy meal to avoid any contamination with unkosher foods. They cannot leave one crumb hiding behind a box in the pantry or under the refrigerator. Their spotless homes are meant to resemble the holy temple.
In preparation for Passover, unleavened bread, or matzah, is called the “food of faith”. They only bake it with wheat that has never come in contact with water to ensure there is no fermentation. Once the dough is made, the matzah bread is quickly baked to, again, prevent fermentation. The Jewish community takes extra-ordinary measures to ensure their preparation for the Seder supper is as pure as possible. Their food of faith reminds them of their freedom from slavery and the faith they have in God to fulfill his promises.
With all this preparation that must have been going on in the Gospel, the Jews still had their eye on Jesus and questioned if He would show up in the midst of threats on his life for the most important feast of the year. Presently, the bans placed on church gatherings and consequently removing mass from communities leaves us suffering from not being able to receive the “bread of life”. It seems as if our Easter won’t arrive and we will be like the Jews still awaiting their Savior.
However, Jesus is a game changer. He always comes to the feast. He has risen from the dead and sends the Holy Spirit to see us through this desert. If we are not able to receive Jesus sacramentally, then let us spiritually replace his sacrifice with our own body. As we listen and watch Mass online, we should replace the bread and wine on the altar with ourselves and then heartfully read the Eucharistic Prayer 2. “Make holy, therefore these gifts we pray by sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are the sacrificial gifts that God will make holy and are destined to become one with Christ. Are you ready to offer yourself during Mass?