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ARE WE GUILTY OF SELF-DECEPTION?

Father Francis's picture
Fifth Week of Lent

Ezek. 37:21-28 & Jn. 11:45-57

We are aware that it is wrong to deceive other people, but isn't it equally wrong to deceive ourselves? Self-deception is probably more common and certainly just as destructive.

Today's Gospel reading is an example of this very thing. The Jewish leaders had decided that Jesus was a dangerous man who had to be eliminated. Already they had tried to stone Him but He evaded them, so they called a meeting to plan their next step. They were worried because Jesus was winning the support of the ordinary Jewish people. If He became too popular the Romans might interfere and forbid all religious observance which would mean the end of the Jewish nation.

Immediately, Caiaphas the high priest spoke up, "It is better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed." Caiaphas convinced them that Jesus' death was not only necessary but would also be a good thing for their nation. They would not dream of calling such an action murder, but a good and holy thing.

We are not likely to be asked to make life and death decisions in our daily lives, but there is still plenty of scope for self-deception. If we really want to convince ourselves that wrong is right we can, just by giving it a different name. We know that drunkenness is wrong - especially if driving is involved - but we tell ourselves that in accepting that extra glass of wine we are simply being sociable and friendly. We know we ought not to miss Mass on Sunday, but we think, 'I've been working hard all week and I'm entitled to a bit of relaxation.' We help ourselves to goods or money from our place of work, saying, 'Well, it's not stealing because I work long hours and they don't pay me much. It's only what's due to me.'

We can all be masters of self-deception! When we do wrong we like to find ways of justifying our actions. Jesus would want to see us being honest with ourselves and with others, and with God Who knows precisely what we are doing and why.

Now if we consider the first reading we become aware of how badly Caiaphas and his religious men acted. Here we see how God loved this nation He had formed, wanting to bring back to the land He gave to their father Jacob all who had wandered away from it. But now the present religious leaders are rejecting His Son, the One He has sent to save them, and deceiving themselves by saying they were doing this for the good of their nation.

Lord Jesus, save me from the wiles of self-deception, to be always truthful in thought and word and deed

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