Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Reading Ezekiel 37:21-28
Gospel John 11:45-56

“... he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation....”

In today’s Gospel passage, the chief priests and Pharisees express their worry about Jesus by saying, “‘What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs.’”

This is their chief complaint about Jesus. It’s His ability to perform signs that threatens them. The ironic point is that in this, the chief priests and Pharisees are like most of the crowds who watch and listen to Jesus. The crowds, in large measure, follow Jesus because of the signs He performs.

Both His enemies and His followers see Jesus’ signs in relation to themselves. His enemies see His signs as a means to the end of their power. His followers see them as a means to gaining power in the forms of food and healing.

But neither group considers what the signs are pointing to. For this reason, it’s easy to see why, atop Calvary on Good Friday, His followers are not to be found, and His enemies jeer that His signs have come to an end. “‘Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe’” [Mark 15:31-32]. Here is a further irony: both friend and foe fail to see the power of the Sign of the Cross, which is to bring strength to His enemies in the form of forgiveness, and nourishment and healing of soul to those who will follow Him in taking up their own crosses.