Homily of St Augustine on John 11:47-54
The chief priest and the Pharisees took counsel together; and yet they did not say: “Let us believe.” For these abandoned men took more thought how to do harm, that they may destroy him [Our Lord Jesus], than how to take counsel for themselves, that they might escape destruction; and yet they were afraid and did in a manner take counsel together. For they said: “What are we doing, for this man is working many signs? If we let him alone as he is, all will believe in him: and the Romans will come, and take away our place and nation.” They feared to lose temporal things, and took no thought for eternal life, and thus they lost both together.
Through clinging to temporal things at all cost they lost everything
For after the Lord had suffered and had entered into glory, the Romans took away from them their place and nation by conquering them and carrying them away; and that pursues them, which was said elsewhere: “But the children of the kingdom shall go into the exterior darkness.” But this was what they feared, that, if all should believe in Christ, there would be none left to defend the city and the temple of God against the Romans; for they imagined that the teaching of Christ was directed against that temple and against the laws of their fathers.
But one of them, named Caiphas, being high priest that year, said to them: “You know nothing: neither do you reflect that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing.” And this he spoke not in a private capacity; but as high priest of that year, he prophesied. From this we learn that even wicked men may foretell the future by the spirit of prophecy; this, however, the Evangelist ascribes to a divine sacrament, for this man was the pontiff, that is to say, the high priest.
– St Augustine, Treatise 49 on John, from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964