Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent

John 11:45-57

Session of the Sanhedrin


We need some quiet time to pray and be alone with God. Without a “desert experience” our faith becomes superficial, our courage sporadic and our love fragile. Noise and distraction constantly surround us; we can actually forget what life is all about and we can lose our contact with God.

Solitude and prayer have a way of restoring perspective and renewing depth. Silence and solitude provide the atmosphere in which we can recall everything that the Lord has done for us in the past and experience all that He is doing for us now. “God is good all the time.” For many of us this dessert time or solace of solitude can be understood only in a metaphorical sense because many of us have all kinds of responsibilities and mundane concerns.

But precisely because we have so many responsibilities and mundane concerns, a desert time is crucially important. Is it not possible for us to individually work out a personal Holy Week’s Schedule?

The ascetic Thomas Merton wrote in New Seeds of Contemplation, “Let there be place somewhere in which you can breathe naturally, quietly and not have to take your breath in continuous short gasps; a place where your mind can be idle and forget its concerns and descend into silence and worship the Father in secret.”

I remember the philosopher Socrates who said: “An unreflected life is not worth living.” (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


These verses teach the salvific death of Jesus who was sacrificed ‘so that the while nation may not perish.”

In the Johannine presentation, Caiaphas, who was the Jewish high priest, unwittingly prophesied and explained (for us readers) the meaning of Jesus’ death which is salvific.

Furthermore, the Johannine writer corrects Caiaphas’ statement that Jesus would die ‘not only for the nation but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God,” i.e., a universal salvation.

This temptation to an ‘exclusivistic salvation’ has corrupted many sects, e.g. the Iglesia Ni Cristo, believing that only their members would be saved. This amounts to a pitiful understanding of God’s all-embracing love. This kind of thinking is also reflected in private revelations, with a statement like: “Those going to Hell are as many as leaves falling in autumn.”

The more one knows people, the deeper one respects the saving work of God in them. The self-righteous Pharisees among us will continue to hate and condemn Jesus and His followers who eat and hobnob with contemporary publicans and prostitutes.

In a conversation with an elderly monsignor, the topic turned to sinners in the parish. He remarked: “Why should I waste time going after them? I don’t even have time for the faithful.” (He had time for other things and for people he fancied).

Are we sincerely concerned about the genuine good of all? Or. Like Caiaphas, do we easily “sacrifice” people? (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


In one commencement exercise, a speaker said: “Appreciative and grateful people commend the noble deeds and traits of others; the self-righteous ones criticize and condemn.” Yes, there are people who can accept others while there are those who reject and criticize.

Our Lord Jesus in His earthly life was not spared from such kinds of people. Yet, whether accepted or rejected, he was not at all deterred from doing what He was so passionate at: obeying His Father’s will.

The gospel of today, a continuation of the event when he raised Lazarus back to life, narrates that many people accepted and believed in Jesus. Yet there were those who were determined to get rid of Him in order to save themselves e.g. the Pharisees together with the chief priests and the Sanhedrin. For them, he was a “pain in the neck,” a dangerous person, a threat to their religious convictions, political interests and security. They were afraid that if many would believe in Him, the Romans would away their land and nation. “It is better for one man to die rather than the whole nation to perish.”

This gospel challenges us to focus on the “light,” the good side of others, and not on their “shadow,” their dark side; to be faithful in examining the motivating force behind our actions; to be honest in answering the question: How easily do we put the blame on others or save our face at the expense of other’s reputation and dignity? (Sr. Frances Grace, SSpS Bible Diary 2008)


In today’s gospel Caiaphas made a decision that divided his people. “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.” His decision was clearly a blatant justification of incompetence. Caiaphas and his followers made Christ as their scapegoat, their face-saving excuse before the Roman authorities. But they did not know that killing an innocent person does not justify any claims of future security. Caiaphas’ position was very ironical because he was afraid of the Romans, yet as a high priest, he was not afraid of God.

Most people tend to act this way, making judgments without weighing the circumstances and making decisions without exploring the possibilities, as if they already know what is going to happen in the future, as if they are sure of things to come despite their murky decision. As a consequence, they made radical decisions they soon regret. Only then will they realize that there are things that they missed in their decision-making. And from them we must learn. First, we should not forget that the will of God is more powerful than everything we desire in life. Hence, if we do not get what we like, we should rather like what we get. Second, we need time to discern what God is telling in each event of our lives. We need not look for extraordinary signs just to be convinced that what we are experiencing is the will of God. Lastly, we need to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance. God has sent us His Spirit to be our advocate and guide. Decisions are not hard to make if you have God in your heart. For with God we can do everything. (Fr. Roger Solis, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


RUMORS: “The Lord shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from a hand too strong for him.” – Jeremiah 31:11

Whether in companies or in churches, money-related issues affect your credibility.

Rick was the subject of an administrative investigation for allegedly pocketing funds. He realized he had made minor computation errors for their field work and immediately wrote an apology. After correcting the computation, he turned over the lacking amount.

Sally started using these facts and twisted them into rumors. Their colleagues believed her.

Rick never knew why his “friends” started changing. But he remained kind and hardworking. He knew he had made an honest mistake but he didn’t have to defend himself to everyone.

A month later, the investigation ended. Sally was fired. It turned out that the receipts she gave Rick to liquidate were falsified. She apparently spread rumors to shift the focus from her to Rick because she needed the money for her son’s tuition.

Rick can be anyone of us. People can use facts, twist them and spread ugly rumors. But keep doing what’s loving and right anyway. Because in the end, God will redeem us even from those whom we think are more powerful than us. Carlo Lorenzo (

Reflection: Are you paranoid about what people say and think about you? Relax. God is your Defender and He wants you to live a stress-free life.

Father God, I surrender my worries to You.


1ST READING: This prophecy of Ezekiel reminds the people both of their history and the many blessings that God gave them as He formed them into a nation faithful to Him, and of the future when there will be restoration — a return to the time of blessings and grace. The difficult thing to know is how the future will look. Will it be exactly the same as the past? Probably not, and this is the mistake that many make. The principles and spirit of a true community of disciples is always the same, but its shape and expression will differ according to time, place and culture. Ezekiel 37:21-28

GOSPEL: Caiaphas argues that, for the good of the people, Jesus should die lest He lead too many people astray from what the majority considered to be the true faith. From the self-important point of view from which he spoke, this is true. However, when you are wrong, as Caiaphas is here, the consequences are not only sinful but can be disastrous for the things you hold most dear. Nicodemus’s argument of letting Jesus be is far more just and sensible. If Jesus was a fake, then what He began will eventually disappear. Jesus was the real thing as we see over 2,000 years later.John 11:45-56

think:  If Jesus was a fake, then what He began will eventually disappear. Jesus was the real thing as we see over 2,000 years later.


JESUS: A DIVIDING LINE: The Passion of Jesus, which we are set to commemorate for a whole week beginning this evening, has a rich significance for everyone. Of course, in the great plan of heaven, as the prophets have expressed, Jesus’ sacrifice and death is meant to be a saving reality — a vicarious death — for all peoples to be reconciled as children of God.

Truly God and truly man, Jesus offers Himself as the bridge builder between God and all humanity. In fact, years later, the Apostle Paul declares: “But now in Christ Jesus you, who once were far away, have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace… and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostilities” (Ephesians 2:13-14).

For Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders who were so conscious about their status, the death of Jesus was something pragmatic in accordance with their selfish minds. The high priest stated: “If we let him… everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Knowing well the hearts and minds of these leaders, we know that they were aching to have Jesus arrested and eliminated — not so much for the nation though, but for their own sakes and positions.

Events always are double-sided: God’s meaning and the human meaning; God’s reasons and human motivations. Sometimes they coincide, but many times they differ. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTION: Meditate on the graces that you need from Jesus’ saving Passion and Cross. Examine the events that happened in your life from last year’s Holy Week till now. Prepare to confess and make contrition for your selfish ways and motives.

Lord, I am sorry for the many times I became too selfish and pushed my own agenda. Grant me the grace of purity of  heart.


Rick Warren: What the Bible says about handling disunity

There’s an unseen factor in Saddleback Church’s growth that most people overlook – church unity.

Published 28 November 2007

There’s an unseen factor in Saddleback Church’s growth that most people overlook – church unity. God blesses a unified church. Many churches have tremendous potential, but they never achieve what God desires because the members spend all their time fighting with one another. All of the energy is focused inward.

The Bible talks more about unity of the church than it does about either heaven or hell. It’s that important. Churches are made up of people, and there are no perfect people. So people get into conflict with each other. As pastors, we need to learn how to deal with those situations. Specifically, we’re called to do these six things when disunity threatens our church.

  1. Avoid situations that cause arguments. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV): “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” Pastors should avoid causing arguments. As a leader you need to set the example for your whole church on this issue. When a minor argument comes along, refuse to get in the middle of it. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything. Some discussions don’t deserve your participation. Focus your conversation on topics that matter.
  2. Teach troublemakers to repent. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 (NIV) says, “Those who oppose him [the pastor] he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” Most pastors don’t like confrontations. But we can’t run from them. As the pastor, you must gently instruct those creating dissention and opposing the teaching in the church.
  3. Warn those causing trouble that their negative words hurt others. 2 Timothy 2:14 (NIV) says, “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words. It is of no value and only ruins those who listen.” People need to know that their words have consequences.
  4. Make a plea for harmony and unity. Paul did this in Philippians 4:2 (NIV). He said, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.” There were two very strong willed women in the church named Euodias and Syntyche who were causing so much friction in the church that Paul’s plea for them to stay united is in the Bible. Fighting in a church doesn’t just affect the combatants; it influences the whole church as people start taking sides. Just like Paul did, at times, you’ll need to make a plea for unity directly to those causing problems.
  5. Rebuke with authority if necessary. Paul says in Titus 2:15-3:1, “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” You may need to confront the contentious person as well.
  6. Remove them from the church if they ignore two warnings. Titus 3:10-11 says, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” No pastor wants to do this, but at last resort you may need to remove the contentious person from the church. You’ve got to protect the unity of your church. If that means getting rid of troublemakers, do it.

The Bible teaches that as the church grows, Satan will do everything he can to cause division. Even well meaning people, even believers, can be used as tools of Satan to hurt the body of Christ. As pastors, as shepherds of God’s people, it’s our job to protect our congregations from Satan’s greatest weapon – disunity. It’s not always easy, but it’s what we’ve been called to do.


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


Reflection for March 28, Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent; John 11:45-56 Reflection: What would be your reaction if someone you know has achieved greatness? Will you envy and eventually decide to bring down this person? Or you will be happy for his/her success and you will even wish him/her more success.

Because of His many miracles Jesus was already becoming popular with the people especially the poor. And the ruling authorities (Pharisees) were already threatened by Jesus growing popularity. So they did what they have to do to silence Jesus. They hatched an evil plan of killing Jesus with the thought that if Jesus dies so goes also His popularity. But it did not happen that way, for their plan did not go as they want it to be.

What if the Pharisees did not envy Jesus? What if they simply had a dialogue with Jesus so that they could work hand in hand to help the poor? The Pharisees could have been an agent of positive change in the lives of the poor. But they chose to allow the devil to sow envy and greed in their hearts. Hence, they committed a despicable crime of killing an innocent man in Jesus.

Can envy and greed do us any good? No it will not do us any good, it will only push us to do evil just like what the Pharisees did to Jesus. Let us therefore weed out any feeling of envy and greed in our hearts. Instead of being envious let us be happy with those who succeed. Instead of being greedy, why not become generous? – Marino J. Dasmarinas


WHEN ENVY STRIKES – So that from that day on they planned to kill him. – John 11:53

I was four years old. My friend, Apple, and I were playing when her nanny gave her a cold bottle of soda. Oh, how I wanted to have that refreshing soda for myself! I asked money from Mom to buy my coveted drink. She was surprised because all I ever drank was juice and water. She asked, “Why do you like soda all of a sudden?” I threw a tantrum and yelled, “Apple is drinking soda! Why can’t I?”

Jesus was gaining popularity and the people believed in the good He had done. So it was ironic that the Pharisees and chief priests plotted to kill Him. And for what? For doing good. That’s how envy works — it dampens your joy, suffocates your compassion, and ruins your appreciation of others’ goodness.

The Pharisees and chief priests witnessed the amazing things Jesus did and were awed by His wisdom. They probably even admired Him. But envy overcame their better judgment and sowed the seeds of hatred and murder in their hearts. They couldn’t have what Jesus had so they plotted to kill Him.

Guess what happened after my tantrum? Mom didn’t give in. Because she knew I wanted to have soda only because I envied my friend. Thank God for my wise mom who taught me to guard my heart from the deadly sin of envy. Dina Pecaña (

Reflection: “The wicked envy and hate; it is their way of admiring.” (Victor Hugo)

Lord, humble me and take the envy away from my heart.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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