Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves.They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Last week I sent a text message to someone in another state. I asked a direct question about something coming up, but I heard nothing back that day. Nor the next day, nor the next. I considered following up, but decided instead to wait. This time has been an intense one—illnesses, deaths. It was hard to read the silence, but there were lots of possible reasons. I did, however, wonder about it.
You may notice the same thing about such a silence or absence. Someone is not where you expect him or her to be—at a party, a wedding, a family gathering. You hear the buzz it generates: “Where is he?” “Does she plan to show up at all?” “Is something wrong?” People can become “noticeable by their absence.”
John’s gospel tells us that the absence of Jesus had the same effect. He was not in Jerusalem where people expected him to be. His absence brought much conversation, speculation. Those in Jerusalem were wondering if he would be there at all.
In my own life as well, there are times when it seems Jesus is absent. I too have wondered: Where is he? Will he show up? When I am facing something particularly hard, I ask him directly, “Will you walk through this with me? I can’t do it alone.”
The later gospel passages tell us that Jesus did arrive in Jerusalem. He didn’t flee or divert from the path he had chosen, no matter the cost. Based on his track record, I trust that he is with me, with all of us. Especially when times are hard.
—Mary Anne Reese is an attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Xavier University’s theology program and belongs to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish. She is also a published poet.
Dear Jesus, I look forward to walking with you and with the whole church this coming week, as we remember the events of your suffering, death and resurrection. Help me to remain fully present, to stay, remain, watch and pray with you. Be with me, be with all of us, in the everyday sufferings and resurrections in life today. Amen.
—Mary Anne Reese