Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday and the Prophecy of Caiaphas

Palm Sunday. The Gospel of St. John has already provided the ominous score for the apparently triumphant scene. "So from that day on they planned to kill Him."
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.
Caiaphas thought he was speaking out of his own cunning. To save the Jews from a brutal Roman reaction to apparent insurrection, Caiaphas plotted the death of Jesus. Yet Caiaphas held a unique religious office. He was high priest. There was murder in his heart, but God intended another meaning to his words: salvation for all mankind.

We need to listen, and not just with our worldly ears. Things may be said that have a meaning beyond the speaker's intent. God is still in charge, even though the days to come could not look darker.

On the eve of Palm Sunday, the Bear reflects upon a sometimes disturbing year, and a distracted Lent.

Lent is never long enough. We set out for the desert with good intentions, but how quickly we turn off the path, sneak back to the delights of wagging tongues, a full belly, and a soft bed. As always, we never make it out to the desert waste with Jesus, who faces the Devil by himself.

The Bear suspects the end of his life will feel the same way. Not time enough to do, or to undo. He wants a another chance, just one more day, that one, perfect day he never managed to achieve.

But now, Holy Week begins. This is our second chance at Lent. God can do a lot in a week. He created the world and everything in it, and still had time to rest.

Focus. Recollection, in the old spiritual language. We are Roman Catholics and this is Holy Week.

Prayer. Penance. Almsgiving.

Everything that matters is coming in the next few days. Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the beginning of Christ's Passion in the garden, betrayal, and Good Friday. We can follow it all through the Gospel of John, the Stations of the Cross, and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Even the film The Passion of the Christ is edifying.

So, for the week to come, St. Corbinian's Bear will look a little different. It will be a safe place to visit that will not disturb your peace.

May God protect and direct the Holy Father, and save His Holy Church. May God bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


  1. Great blog entry. I feel the same way. Thanks for the perspective of a second chance.

  2. You've put into words how I feel at this time each Lent. But I take solace from your reminder that God is in charge and that despite my Lenten failures, I am being given a second chance. Wonderful piece.

  3. Amen! God bless you and yours this week. I also thought this morning. It is time regroup, put things in overdrive (heck, it would be good to get out of first gear frankly--yeah, that's how bad I've been!). One last shot at a meaningful Lent and Holy Week.

  4. For me, the normally rather bleak weather during this time of year in our location makes it easier not to get ahead of the narrative. The mild, sunny, flower-filled early springtimes of my California childhood would not have been helpful - had the seasons of the Church year been known to me then. By the same token, a visually austere Easter Sunday makes it a little harder for me to shift into the proper gear at the proper time :-)

    My family did observe Easter Sunday, by accompanying my Methodist great aunt to church - but had it not been for the hymn "Christ the Lord is Ris'n Today" (still a vivid evocation of Easter for me) I'd have been stumped, as a child, to say what Easter signified.


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