Fifth Week of Lent

Saturday, March 27, 2021

John 11:45–56

Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Pharisees plot to kill Jesus because he raised Lazarus. Once again, we see here a particular form of opposition—namely, scapegoating. René Girard identified the scapegoating mechanism as basic to the maintenance of order in most human communities. When tensions arise among people due to competitive desire, scapegoats—usually outsiders—are automatically singled out, and upon them is cast the collective anxiety of the group.

The leaders of the nation are seeking to isolate and eliminate Jesus because they are anxious to soothe tensions among the people. The author of John’s Gospel stresses this dimension when he puts in the mouth of Caiaphas these words: “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.”

But, in Jesus, the true God will undermine this officially sanctioned scapegoating by becoming the scapegoat himself.

Reflect: How did the Resurrection turn the scapegoating that Caiaphas supported into the key to our salvation?

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