13 April 2019: The love-hate conflict between kings and prophets


Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Reading 1: Ezekiel 37:21-28; Gospel : John 11:45-56

If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy the Holy Place and our nation.’

In the 12th century there came a prophet from Assisi, called Francis, who resembled Christ most, with ‘nowhere to lay his head’. Just like Jesus, he was not a priest, nor had his institutions to defend but only a broken Church to rebuild. He had such a marvellous inner freedom that he was a friend of the sun, the moon, earth, birds, fish and wild animals! He was so devoid of hatred in his heart that he would as well have been a friend of the devil himself!

There was a Pope in Rome, the king of the papal states. Papacy was at the acme of power and glitter in those centuries. He had his position to defend, a country to protect. So, the Gospel receded to a very low priority. He was decked in diamond and gold. Papacy had descended into morally and spiritually ignoble depths.

One day, the little poor man of Assisi came to meet the Pope in his palace and bowed low. He wondered how the Vicar of Christ did not at all resemble his Master, and why the Church was nothing like the community Jesus had imagined.  While the courtiers were fuming, the Pope came down from his throne and fell at the feet of Francis! Today we have a Pope with the name of this little poor man.

We can easily understand the logic of Caiaphas, that one man should die for the nation! He had a duty to defend the temple and the nation, the institution that he presided over. But that interest blinded him even from seeing whether what Jesus said was true or not! Institutions were born to defend the truth. But when they become ends in themselves, it is the troublesome truth that gets eliminated. The battle between Caiaphas and Jesus, the king and the prophet, continues to be one of the foremost problems in the Church today.


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