Friday, 4/2/2021, Good Friday
The Passion of the Lord
Gospel Commentary: Matthew 26:20 - 27:65, Mark 14:17 - 15:47, Luke 22:14 - 23:56 & John 13:1 - 19:42
The Passion of Christ is accounted for in all four of the Gospels. In order to have a complete account of what happened from the Last Supper to the crucifixion, which is the time that we know as the Passion of Christ, you need to read all four Gospels. All of the Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary take place during the time between Holy Thursday evening at the Last Supper and Good Friday Afternoon when Jesus gave His life on the cross.
When did the Passion of Christ begin? Was it at the Last Supper? Was it when Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday which begins Passion Week? Or was it at a time before that day? Did the Passion begin when Judas made the decision to betray Jesus? Did it begin when the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus? Did it begin with the Nativity itself when the Holy Family had to flee from Herod? Or do we have to go all of the way back to Genesis 3:15 to find the real beginning?
I say, “Yes.” We do have to go back to Genesis. The Father sent the Son so that mankind might be redeemed from sin. When the Father made that decision, He knew exactly what He was subjecting the Son to, and the Son knew what He was accepting. God the Father knew that the Son would have to carry the sins of the world on His shoulders and the Son knew the suffering that He would endure. The Father and the Son both knew that no one else could carry out that mission. So, I argue that the moment that the Father promised to send His Son in Genesis 3:15, the Passion began. If you can relate to that, then you can understand why I say that the Passion of Christ as we normally think of it is really the Passion of God.
Let’s take a closer look at why the Passion began in the Garden of Eden as we review Genesis 3:15 where God the Father said to the devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
The woman’s offspring is Christ who the Father sent to give His life on the cross in order, to defeat the devil and destroy the devil’s evil works. Because this was God’s plan from the beginning as He announced it in Genesis, I see that as the real beginning of the Passion. You could even go back to the sin of Adam and Eve and say that their sin is the beginning of the Passion since it is their sin that prompted God to make His decree in Genesis 3:15.
But none of that is as important as the reason for the Passion which is God’s love for us and His determination and commitment to save us. True, if there was no sin, there would have been no Passion, but the fact remains that God did not have to make the sacrifice. God gave Himself out of His love for us.
Now let’s look at the Passion as it is proclaimed in the four Gospels. Note that the Passion of the Lord according, to John as it is proclaimed in church begins at John 18:1, the Arrest of Jesus. In order, to get a full account of everything that happened at the Last Supper and everything that Jesus said to the disciples at the Last Supper, we have to include the beginning of John 13, which begins with the Washing of the Disciples Feet through John 17:1-26 which is the Prayer of Jesus at the end of the Last Supper before the Agony in the Garden.
The Pharisees were plotting against Jesus for some time. They were hypocrites and jealous of the attention and admiration that Jesus was receiving from the people who witnessed His great works and had come to believe in Jesus. The Pharisees were looking for an opportunity to arrest Jesus and that opportunity came when Judas betrayed Him.
Two of the deadly sins are portrayed here. The pride of the Pharisees which made them hypocrites and the greed of Judas which made him betray Jesus. We have to stop and think for a moment of the times that we have been guilty of these two sins. Have we ever allowed our pride to lead us into believing that we are better than other people? Have we ever allowed our greed to lead us into taking advantage of others or thievery or betrayal?
But before Judas carried out his act of betrayal, Jesus was anointed two times. Jesus was anointed, by a woman while at the house of Simon the leper and at the house of Lazarus by Mary, the sister of Lazarus. On both occasions, expensive oil was poured on Jesus.
When the woman at the house of Simon anointed Jesus, the disciples became indignant saying that the oil could have been sold and the money given to the poor. But Jesus told them that they would have the poor always but that they would not always have Him. He told them that the oil was poured on Him to prepare His body for burial. Jesus added that when people hear this Gospel proclaimed, the woman’s actions would be spoken of in memory of her.
When Mary anointed Jesus, Judas asked, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” But the heart of Judas was not in giving to the poor. He was more concerned with the monetary value of the oil because of his greed.
Do we put a limit on what we are willing to give to Jesus? Is there a limit on what we are willing to do for Jesus? The woman at the house of Simon and Mary had no limit and when Jesus said that the woman’s actions would be spoken in memory of her, He was telling us to follow her example.
Were the disciples not paying attention to what Jesus was telling them about what was to come or were they in denial? This is not the first time or the last time that Jesus told them that He was about to die. Christians everywhere are disciples, but do we listen to everything that Jesus tells us, or do we pick-and-choose what we want to hear and deny or ignore the rest? Think about it: Why else are there so many denominations of Christianity?
When asked by the disciples about where they would celebrate the Passover meal, according to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, the teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.” Again, Jesus is alluding to what is about to happen.
How would you like to have Jesus come to your house for dinner? I wonder how that man felt. How would you like to be invited to Jesus’ house for dinner? But is that not what happens when we go to church to partake in the Eucharist?
Jesus knew that His hour had come and John tells us that Jesus loved His own in the world and loved them to the end. Here, John is making, reference to the Twelve including the one who would betray Him. This gives us an opportunity to reflect on the fact that Jesus loves all of us too in spite, of our many sins.
John also tells us that the Father had put everything into Jesus' power; that He came from God and was returning to God. Think about it: If everything was in His power, Jesus could have stopped Judas. But He chose not to.
Instead, Jesus let the disciples know that He knew that He would be betrayed and said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” All of them, including Judas denied ever being able to do such a thing. Would we do such a thing? Have we ever done such a thing? Unless you can testify that you have never sinned, the answer is yes you can and yes you have.
In addition to instituting the Eucharist, Jesus was about to ordain the disciples as the first priests of the Church. At the Last Supper, Jesus would give the disciples their final instructions and their final lessons before He would give His life for them and for us.
According, to John, the first lesson was in service and humility. Jesus began to wash the feet of the disciples and dry them with the towel that He had tied around His waist. When He got to Peter, Peter said, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus told Peter, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Then Peter wanted to have his hands, head and feet washed.
Let’s stop and think about this. Peter was too proud to have his feet washed until Jesus told him what he would loose. What would you do if Jesus was in front of you and offered to wash your feet? If Jesus, the Son in the Trinity, God Himself, can serve another man with such extreme humility then we should be able to serve each other.
Serving others is not just something that we should all be willing to do; it is one of the duties of a priest. The washing of feet was an outward way of Jesus teaching that lesson and giving that instruction to the Twelve who were the first priests.
None of us like to take direction from someone who does not practice what they preach. Indeed, Jesus did practice what He preached all throughout His life and told the disciples to do the same when He said, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
This lesson was not about washing feet. It was about treating people no matter how low their place may be in society, with dignity and respect from the heart. It was about helping those in need and turning your back on no one. It was about obeying the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
In His lesson of service and humility, Jesus also told the disciples not to fall into the deadly sin of pride when He said that no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.
Then Jesus turned His attention once again to His being betrayed saying, “I am telling you before it happens so that you may believe that I AM…whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
We do not have to be a religious or a member of the clergy to be sent by God. All of us are called to proclaim our faith and when we do, we demonstrate that we do receive Jesus and therefore, the Father.
But Judas did not. So, once again, Jesus said, “I am deeply troubled…I say to you, one of you will betray me.” They were all wondering who it might be and Peter asked Jesus who it might be.
According, to John, Jesus answered by saying, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” It was Judas who took the morsel and Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Still, the other disciples did not realize that Judas would be the one to betray Jesus and that might be because according, to Matthew, Judas denied being the betrayer by saying, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” At any rate, John tells us that Judas took the morsel and left at once.
There are a couple of things to consider here. First, the disciples were in denial. Jesus had been telling them for some time that His hour was near and had come. They just could not accept the fact that Jesus was getting ready to suffer and die in a matter of hours. They also could not accept the fact that one of them would betray Him even though, Jesus as much as told them who the betrayer was.
In other words, the disciples rejected what they did not want to hear. Many of us do the very same thing with the Gospel. We listen to and accept what we want to hear because it fits our own personal lifestyle or desires and we ignore that which is unsettling to us. Some Christians might say as Judas said, “Surely it is not I.” But how many of those same Christians reject the Sacrament of Confession?
This trait of the disciples shows that they were no better than any of us which means that we are in good company. That does not mean that we should make the same mistake of picking-and-choosing what we want to hear when God speaks to us. But if the disciples, who were about to become the first priests of the Church, could make such a mistake, so can we. We all do. Otherwise, there would be no sin and there would only be one religion in the world.
There is something else which I find curious. In most images of the Last Supper, we see the Twelve with Jesus. But John tells us that Judas left at once. The way that I understand John’s account, this all happened just before the Institution of the Eucharist. But according, to Luke, Jesus warned once again after the Institution of the Eucharist that He would be betrayed. So, was Judas at the Institution of the Eucharist or not? You decide.
Consider this: We know that Scripture, though written by human hands, comes from God. Scripture is God’s Word. Could this apparent conflict be God’s way of saying that Judas was present in body but not in spirit?
Jesus said the blessing, broke the bread, gave it to the disciples and told them to eat it, that it was His body. He said to the disciples, “Do this in memory of me.” Then Jesus took the cup, said a blessing, passed it around and told the disciples to drink it, that it was His blood, the Blood of the New Covenant. This is the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, the Institution of the Eucharist.
Jesus said that He would not drink of the vine again until the day that He would drink it new in the Kingdom of God. Once again, Jesus told the disciples that He was preparing to die.
Because the Apostles are the first priests and bishops of the Church, Catholics believe that at Mass when the priest, who is a descendant of the Apostles, does as Jesus commanded, the bread and wine become the Eucharist: the living body and blood of Christ. The transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood occurs after the consecration when the priest repeats the words that Jesus said at the Last Supper.
When the priest repeats the words that Christ spoke at the Last Supper over the bread and then holds it up for all to see; that bread becomes the Living Body of Christ. The priest then repeats the words that Christ spoke over the wine and raises the chalice for all to see and at that moment, the wine becomes the Living Blood of Christ. When the Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated at Mass, that moment of the Last Supper is being relived. It is not symbolic. It is a reliving!
Why did Jesus give us the Eucharist? Remember Matthew 28:19-20, the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, He said, “Do this in memory of me.” This became one of the commandments that Jesus was telling the Apostles to observe at the end of Matthew’s Gospel.
The Eucharist is also one of the ways that Jesus keeps His promise of being with us always. When we partake in the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, we are placing ourselves in communion with Christ and we are accepting Christ in communion with us and He is with us. This can only be done by reliving the Last Supper which is what Catholics do at every Mass.
Again, Jesus told the disciples that He was about to die by saying, “I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me…Where I go you cannot come.” Jesus was not telling the disciples that they could not be with Him as it might seem. Jesus was telling the disciples that He was the Lamb to be sacrificed—not any of them.
God did not leave our salvation to anyone else but Himself because no one can save us but Him. Today, Christians everywhere know this. But at the time that Jesus said this to the disciples, they did not understand and, again, it was because they did not want to hear it.
But when Jesus said these things, He also gave the disciples another commandment which was to love one another as He had loved them and He added, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples.”
Jesus was telling the disciples to teach in the same manner that He had taught them—by example. God is love and the best way to proclaim God is with love. There is a lyric in a famous hymn, “They will know that we are Christians by our love.”
Then Jesus gave the disciples another lesson in service by teaching them that if one wants to be the greatest, one must be willing to serve. At the end of His lesson, according, to Luke, Jesus proclaimed, “I confer a kingdom on you…and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Jesus was referring to the prophecy in Isaiah 24:23 and Jesus was making His own prophecy of John’s vision in Revelation 4:1-11. In Revelation 4:4, there are twenty-four thrones for the elders. Twelve of those elders are the Apostles.
Our reward in heaven is greater than we can imagine but we will not earn it by trying to be the greatest. We will only earn it by being humble and willing to serve others out of love in the same way that Jesus loves all of us.
Jesus said to the disciples, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken.” Peter responded, “Though all may have faith in you shaken, mine will never be.” Jesus said, “…this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” All of the disciples spoke likewise.
There is much to meditate on here. We all know that Peter did deny Jesus just as Jesus said he would. We all know how remorseful Peter was after the denial. But not everybody pays much attention to the other disciples who in their own way, all except John, denied Jesus by not being with Jesus later while He was on the Cross.
Judas was the only disciple who did not believe because he had been taken over by the devil with his greed. The other disciples were believers and had great faith, but they were also broken men. They are some of the best examples of how God loves us all and uses us in spite, of our brokenness. God has a plan for each one of us and He knows that we will make mistakes and fall along the way. But as long, as we put our faith in God, He will not stop picking us up and He will give us everything that we need to complete our mission.
If the disciples can fall, we should not be too upset with ourselves when we fall. We should pray, keep the faith, say thanks for the experience, repent and remember once again that we are in good company—the company of the Apostles and saints.
Jesus told the disciples to have faith in Him without having troubled hearts. Clearly, Jesus was trying to comfort and reassure the disciples. He said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? I will come back again and take you to myself.”
The disciples knew the Scriptures, they were with Jesus and they knew who Jesus was and yet they still did not get it. Have you ever wanted to console someone only to find it to be impossible because that person was so wrapped up in grief that their minds and ears were closed to everything that you were telling them? Have you ever tried to explain something to someone and no matter how much since you were making and no matter how straight forward the matter was; there was just no way that you could get through?
That was exactly what Jesus confronted here with the disciples. There was just no way that they wanted to hear any parts of Jesus leaving them even though He was telling them that He was about to fulfill Scripture and prepare the path for them and all of mankind to be with Him in heaven.
We are the same way. We don’t want anything to distract us from living our lives in the way that we want to live them. We don’t want anything to get in the way of our doing what we want to do. Remember the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done?”
So, Jesus had to reassert who He was and said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Philip asked to see the Father to which Jesus said, “Have I been with you for so long a time…you still do not know me Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
The Trinity—three persons in one God—is something that the human mind cannot grasp and understand. But Jesus was making it clear to the disciples that He and the Father were One. Notice that Jesus said, “I will do” to whatever they asked in His name meaning that whatever they asked the Father, the Son would do as though they were asking the Son directly.
Then Jesus told the disciples about the Third Person—the Spirit who was the Advocate and the Spirit of Truth who would be with them always. Jesus said that the world cannot accept the truth because it does not see or know it.
All one has to do is listen to the news or take a drive through a challenged neighborhood and talk to some of the people on the streets to understand what Jesus was saying. With all of the chaos around the world and in our midst, it is obvious that the world does not know the Spirit of Truth. The good news is that the Spirit lives in all of us and as individuals; we can choose to listen to the Spirit or reject Him and follow the world. Listening to the Spirit is better.
After saying all of, these things, Jesus told the disciples that the ruler of the world was coming and Jesus said, “He has no power over me.”
The evil one—Satan—is the ruler of the world and that is why there is so much chaos in the world. But the evil one has no power over Jesus and as long, as we listen to His Spirit and follow Him; the evil one will have no power over us.
Then Jesus said, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.” Think about it. How can you hate someone and say that you love God? It simply does not work. God is all about love. He commands us to love Him and to love each other. It is not possible to keep this commandment if there is hate in your heart for anyone. You may be upset with someone for something they have done to you but if you let your anger turn to hate, then you hate God first.
Jesus promised again to send the Spirit and told the disciples what the Spirit would do. Jesus then prayed asking the Father to give Him glory because He had carried out the Father’s Will. Jesus did not pray for the world because the world is ruled by the evil one who, with his followers, is condemned.
But Jesus did pray for the disciples and all those who would follow Him because they are the ones who belong to the Father. In other words, Jesus prayed for all of us who believe in God. Jesus prayed, “Keep them in your name…keep them from the evil one…I pray…also for those who will believe in me…I wish that where I am they also may be with me.”
Meditate on that for a moment. Jesus prayed for you and me! God the Son is our number one intercessor with God the Father. God is our intercessor with God. Yes, that is a mystery. Just say, “Thank you God.” Then consider this: If Jesus can pray for us, then we can pray for each other—even those who sin against us.
Jesus went with the disciples to the garden, a place called Gethsemane. He told them to pray that they do not undergo the test. Three times, Jesus went off to pray and according, to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus prayed so hard that his sweat became like blood. After each time that Jesus went off to pray, He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. After the first time, Jesus told Peter again to pray that he does not undergo the test. Jesus said to Peter, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Each time that Jesus went off to pray, He asked the Father to remove this cup from Him. But each time He prayed; Jesus also told the Father that His Will be done. This is the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, The Agony in the Garden.
The disciples still did not realize what was about to happen. They did not understand what Jesus was going through at this point. They probably had no idea what Jesus was telling them when He said, “Pray that you do not undergo the test.” Jesus telling Peter that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak is an important factor here. Jesus knew that if the devil tested the disciples that they would fail. But in the garden, the devil’s concentration was on Jesus, not the disciples because none of the disciples were being called to be the Savior, it was Jesus.
We must remember that Jesus is both man and God. Not half and half but one hundred percent man and one hundred percent divine. In the garden, the devil was trying his best to persuade Jesus to not carry out the Father’s Will. It was the humanity of Jesus that the devil attacked and it was the humanity of Jesus that asked the Father to remove the cup from Him. It was the divinity of Jesus that the devil could not reach and it was the divinity of Jesus that said that the Father’s Will be done. Remember that in Genesis the Father said, “He will strike at your head while you will strike at his heel.” It was just as the Father said it would be.
This is a good time to stop and meditate on the humanity of Christ. Being one hundred percent human, He experienced everything that we do. Jesus felt in a human way, all of our emotions. Jesus loved, laughed, felt pain, cried and went through it all. The Father is not only our Creator who loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice the Son for us. He is our Creator who loves us so much that He sent the Son to live with us and be just like us. No one knows better how the spirit can be willing but the flesh weak better than the Son. That, together with the Son's absolute obedience to the Father, is why the Father made the Son the King, Judge and Savior. That is also why His mercy and forgiveness are infinite.
Judas arrived with the crowds to arrest Jesus and gave the sign by kissing Jesus on the cheek. Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. But Jesus told Peter to put back his sword and healed the servant’s ear. He said that He could ask the Father to send legions of angels to help Him but that if He did, the Scripture could not be fulfilled. He also said that “those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword.”
Here we see in a physical way just how limitless God’s mercy and forgiveness are. Can you imagine being that servant? Can you imagine what must have gone through his mind and through his heart? Imagine the conversion that he must have experienced. Every time I go to Confession, I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders and I have talked to many other people who tell me that they have the same feeling after Confession. I know that I have never experienced anything like what this servant had to feel and I am sure that few of us ever have or ever will.
When Jesus said that if the Father sent angels to help Him, the Scripture could not be fulfilled and said, that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword, the disciples finally got it. Now they knew what was about to happen. And what did they do? According, to Matthew and Mark, they fled.
Have you ever run away from your church because of what was about to happen or because of something which was happening that you did not like, leaving the church to fend for itself? Sorry, but there are a lot of people in the world today, and I am not just talking about Catholics, who have to say, “Ouch” right now. It is a major reason why the Church is shrinking in numbers.
John’s Gospel tells us that when they came to arrest Jesus, He asked them who they were looking for. They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I AM.” Notice the caps. They turned away and fell to the ground, so Jesus asked them again, and again they said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” So again, Jesus said, “I told you that I AM. So, if you are looking for me, let these men go.” John tells us that this was to fulfill one of the things that Jesus had said in His prayer before going to the garden, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
But there is something else here. It is not God’s Will for anyone to suffer or be punished for another person’s crimes or sins. Jesus paid the price for all of our sins which is why Jesus told those who came to arrest Him to let the others who were with Him go.
Why did they fall to the ground when Jesus said, “I AM?” Again, notice the caps. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the Almighty. Somebody there had to know who they were arresting. I wonder if any of those people were true believers going along with what was happening because they believed that the Scripture had to be fulfilled and that it was about to happen. Maybe they thought that Jesus would escape just as He had gotten away from persecutors in the past. I wonder if any of those people were guilty of betrayal like Judas. I wonder if any of those people really did not want to be there but were there because of peer pressure or curiosity. We do not know but these questions give me cause to stop and look within. What would I have done if I were one of those people? What would you have done? I think that we better be careful how we answer. Remember, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Jesus was taken to Annas who was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, the high priest who counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die (Jesus) rather than the people (those who followed Jesus). While Jesus was being questioned by Annas, Peter was asked if he was one of the disciples and Peter gave his first denial.
Jesus answered the questions about His teachings by saying that His teachings were in the synagogue or in the temple where all of the Jews gather. His teachings were never secret. Jesus said, “Why ask me? Ask those who heard me.” One of the guards struck Him so Jesus said, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent Jesus to Caiaphas.
Annas could make no headway with Jesus because there was no wrong to testify against Him. When we are charged with a crime and no evidence can be brought against us, we go free. At least that is the way that it is supposed to work. Jesus did not receive such justice. This was just the beginning of Jesus’ persecutors not letting Him get away. Ever been wrongly accused of something by someone who is tenacious and just won’t give up? Ever have someone look down on you and say hurtful things to you because of your faith? Welcome to the wonderful world of Jesus.
So, Jesus went in front of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. They tried to obtain testimony against Jesus in order, to put Him to death. There were witnesses who testified falsely against Him, but their stories did not match. Lies seldom do! The high priest rose and questioned Jesus saying, “Are you the Messiah?” According, to Mark, Jesus answered, “I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore the garments of Jesus and said, “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned Him to death.
People have been persecuted for their belief in God throughout the ages. The Catholic Church has been persecuted from the beginning. Ever wonder just how many martyrs there are? I am sure that there are more martyrs than those who are recorded. Are you so committed to your religion and doing the Father’s Will that you would lay down your life for it as Jesus and the martyrs have done? Or is the flesh too weak? Many of us say that we are committed to our religion. We say that we are committed to living a life which is consistent with God’s Will. We also sin. The flesh is truly weak and few of us are real martyrs.
While Jesus was with Caiaphas, Peter was standing there in the courtyard by a fire with other people keeping warm. They asked him if he was one of the disciples. Peter denied it saying, “I am not.” But one of the slaves of the high priest questioned Peter, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Peter denied it and according, to Mark, he began to curse. Luke tells us that Jesus turned and looked at Peter as the cock crowed and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him. Peter then went out and wept bitterly.
How much remorse do we have for the sins that we commit? Are we like Peter, so sorry for what we have done wrong that we just break down? Or do we just brush it off like it is nothing and just keep on sinning? Some of us don’t even go to Confession. Non-Catholics don’t believe in the Sacrament of Confession but even some Catholics don’t go. We should. The Sacrament of Confession was given to us by Christ Himself. But Peter did not have to say anything to Jesus at that moment. Jesus knew how sorry Peter was and I bet that Peter was forgiven, by Jesus before he even made those denials.
As I think about this, I wonder if this incident is the reason why Jesus gave Peter the authority to absolve sins before the other Apostles by proclaiming that Peter would be the Rock and then saying to Peter, "...Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19 If nothing else, Peter certainly had a deep understanding of heartfelt remorse and repentance.
Once again, I say remember what Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The spirit lives forever but the flesh, is only temporary and will die. Christ cares about what lives in our spirit and that is what will be judged. The flesh can say that it is sorry but does the spirit mean it and that is the question. That is what counts. Jesus knew what was in Peter’s spirit. We should be careful of what is in ours.
Do we have a spirit filled with love for God and faith in Him like Peter? Or do we have a heart filled with sin like Judas? He was remorseful for what he had done and went to return the thirty pieces of silver, but the chief priests and elders did not want the money back. So, Judas threw the silver into the temple and went off to hang himself.
I used to wonder if Jesus forgave Judas because of his remorse and if Judas could be in heaven. I say, “yes” on the forgiving part because we know that God’s mercy and forgiveness are infinite. But I have, to say, “no” on the question of Judas being in heaven because Judas was still under the control of the devil who takes great pleasure in persecuting us and condemning us after we sin. I know that the devil was still in Judas because suicide is self-inflicted murder which is a mortal sin. Judas killed himself not because of his remorse but because of the condemnation of the devil.
Jesus was then taken to Pilot who asked the people, “What charge do you bring against this man?” According, to Luke’s Gospel the people told Pilot, “We found this man misleading our people, he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah.” But Pilot told them to take Jesus and judge Him according, to their own law. The Jews answered Pilot saying that they did not have the right to execute anyone. This fulfilled the word of Jesus indicating the kind of death that He would suffer. So, Pilot took Jesus inside to question Him.
Jesus never misled anyone. What Jesus told the people was that they should give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give unto God what belongs to God. In other words, Jesus had told the people to be good citizens and to practice their faith. But the crowds were influenced by the Pharisees who were intent on taking everything that Jesus said out of context and in spite, of everything which Jesus had done, the Pharisees refused to accept who Jesus was because of their own pride and jealousy. They wanted to be the only ones that the people listened to. The Pharisees would rather see Jesus dead than to have Him preach anymore or be in the spotlight.
How often do we find ourselves getting into an argument with someone because they disagree with an opinion or a belief that we have? Jesus stood His ground and did not back down, but He also did not argue. Jesus did not have to prove Himself. Often-times, when we are telling the truth, we don’t have to prove ourselves even though we feel as though we do. I have learned that the more people argue with you, the farther away from the truth they are. Sooner, or later, the truth will come out on its own.
We see Jesus go through the Passion silent like a lamb. In so doing, He teaches us that we don’t have to raise our voices screaming and hollering to prove ourselves right when we are telling the truth. If you have to argue the point, the other person is not going to listen anyway. Just put it in God’s hands and let it go. Yes, you might have to undergo some unfair consequences but there is a much bigger and better prize than winning the argument which awaits you. It’s called heaven.
Pilot asked Jesus if He was the king of the Jews. Jesus asked Pilot if he was asking that question on his own or because of what others had told him. Pilot said, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus told Pilot that His Kingdom was not of this world, that if it were, His attendants would be fighting for Him. So, Pilot said, “So are you a king?” Jesus said, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who, listens to the truth, listens to my voice.” Pilot asked, “What is truth?”
Pilot did not know what to make of Jesus. He could not find any reason to execute Jesus. What we do know is that Pilot did not believe in much of anything because as soon as he asked Jesus, “What is truth?” he went back out to the Jews. He did not wait for an answer. He did not know truth and did not seem to care. How many times have you tried to explain something to someone but could not reach them because they did not care? Do we care about what Jesus tells us or are we like Pilot?
Because Jesus was a Galilean under the jurisdiction of Herod, Pilot sent Jesus to Herod who was glad to see Jesus because he wanted to see Jesus perform some sign. Herod questioned Jesus at great length, but Jesus remained silent.
What would Herod have done if Jesus had given a sign to him? Would he have had a conversion and let Jesus go? We don’t know. But why did Jesus not give Herod a sign? Why should He? Again, He did not have to prove anything. Furthermore, Jesus knew that His time had come and He was not going to deviate from the Father’s plan.
The chief priests, scribes, Herod and his soldiers all mocked Jesus, put Him in a resplendent robe and sent Him back to Pilot. The resplendent robe, full of bright colors and glitter, was not to make Jesus look good. It was a mockery. Do we ever make a mockery of God? What about when we use the Lord’s name in vain? I am sure that God does not have a problem with humor but are we making a mockery of Him if we make jokes about Him which are out of character and distasteful? What about when we make bad jokes about other religions?
When Pilot went back out to the Jews, he told them that he had found no guilt in Jesus. He told them, “But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out, “Not this one but Barabbas.”
Would you ever choose someone else over Jesus? Would you ever put anything else ahead of Jesus? The Jews chose Barabbas, a revolutionary and the ultimate criminal. This man was an absolute menace to society but that is who the Jews chose. There is a lot of that going on in the world today. For all too many of us, money is the most important thing in life. Some people will even kill for it. Some people choose drugs, alcohol and sex. That’s why we have so many problems in the world today. It is not easy to live a life according, to God’s Will but that is because we choose not to. We are too busy making other things more important.
Pilot told the Jews that Herod found no reason to have Jesus put to death. He said that he would have Jesus scourged and then released. But the Jews demanded that Jesus be crucified. So, knowing that the chief priests had brought Jesus to him because of their envy, and not being able to control the crowds, he washed his hands of the matter, had Jesus scourged and turned over to the Jews.
Pilot was not a believer, but he knew that Jesus was being falsely accused and wanted no part in putting Jesus to death which is why he washed his hands. But he did not release Jesus. Instead, he gave Jesus back to the Jews to do whatever they wanted to do with Him. In effect, he sentenced Jesus to death anyway.
When we look at this situation, we think about how wrong the Jews were in choosing Barabbas and how cowardly it was for Pilot to just wash his hands of the matter and turn Jesus over to the Jews. But we have to take a much deeper look at this.
Barabbas was guilty of all of his crimes and deserved to be punished but God had a different plan. Remember when Jesus was arrested, Peter cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus? Remember that Jesus replaced the man’s ear and I commented that it is not God’s Will for anyone to be punished for another person’s crimes?
The time had come for the sins of the world to be nailed to the cross including those of Barabbas. It was not Barabbas’ place to be a Savior. So, it was not God’s Will for Jesus to be released. Barabbas had to be released for his own sake and for the sake of the entire world.
This should also give us cause to consider Capital Punishment. It is a violation of the Commandment, "Thou shall not kill." Human life is not ours to give or to take away and any time that we attempt to do either one, we are trying to be God. Any time that we do that, we place ourselves in the company of Lucifer who thought that he was on God’s level and therefore, could defy God. Is that what we want? What happened here was Jesus telling us one-last-time that it is not our place to take another ones' life for their crimes. We are not the judge: He is!
God could have caused a conversion within the heart of Barabbas and since he was the ultimate criminal, have him take the sins of the world to the cross. Sound crazy? Maybe. But remember this: Nothing is beyond God and then take a look at the conversion of St. Paul who, before his conversion, persecuted followers of Jesus and participated in the execution of the Church's first martyr, St. Stephen. Acts 9:1-19
How many times do we find ourselves in the position of doing something we don’t want to do, something which is wrong, but we are stuck doing it anyway because of overburdening pressure from other people? We see here another tactic that the devil uses so well against us. He will get someone or a small group of people who are in a position, to or are able, to influence the masses and the next thing you know, the majority, of people in society are headed the wrong way in life.
Our society is plagued with examples of this. One of them is the decision to have religion taken out of our classrooms. This is one of the main reasons why there is an over whelming number of young people who are totally confused about who God is. They have no spiritual base and as, a result, they can’t pass one on to their children. How many generations will have, to suffer through this problem before it is reversed?
But before Pilot turned Jesus over, he said to Him, “Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason, the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
We can also look at our currant political and social problems and ask the question: How many generations will have to suffer before the hatred, bigotry and racism which has been fostered and incited by one of our former presidents is reversed?
There are two very clear messages here. First, Jesus is telling Pilot that all power comes from God who made us. Pilot may not have been a believer in Jesus, but he certainly did not argue that point. Unfortunately, some of us do argue that point. Some of us refuse to believe that there is something greater than ourselves who made all things. For example, science is so wrapped up in the big bang theory and the theory of evolution that it has no room for God. When will science realize that whatever caused the big bang came from God? When will science realize that even if the theory of evolution is right, it is still God’s work?
The second message is that when we lead someone into sin, we ourselves commit a greater sin by making ourselves responsible for their sin. We see this in the Garden of Eden. The devil led Eve into sin and she then led Adam into that sin.
The soldiers scourged Jesus and crowned Him with thorns. These are the Second and Third Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. They took great pleasure in what they were doing. They stripped Jesus of His own cloths. They spat on Him and continued beating Him as they led Him off to be crucified at a place called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.
Little did the soldiers know that the crown which they placed on the head of Jesus would be the greatest crown of all time. Why do I say that? Because, of who wore it, the King of kings, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That crown of thorns is the Crown of Salvation.
To say that the soldiers were mean to Jesus, I think is one of the great understatements of the ages. Do you know anyone who is just plain mean? Why would anyone be that way? What purpose does it serve to be so mean?
They made Jesus carry His cross and this is the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary. What Jesus had on His shoulders was the weight of the entire world. Jesus was carrying the weight of the worlds sins—all of them past, present and future. The weight of the cross was becoming too much for Jesus to handle with all of the beating which He had received and was still receiving. So, the soldiers took hold of a man called Simon who was a Cyrenian to help Jesus.
Would you help Jesus carry His cross? The question should be, do you help Jesus carry His cross? We are all called by Jesus to carry our crosses in life and when we do, we are helping Him. People who undergo difficult times in life or suffer illnesses but never seem to complain have learned how to carry their cross. Ever meet someone who is in a bad way but can’t give enough praise and honor to God just the same? They have learned how to carry their cross and we should, be inspired by them and learn from them.
When we experience bad times, we should pray to have our pain lifted away. But if we really expect an answer to that prayer, we better remember the Cross and give God all of the praise and glory that He deserves for what He has already done for us.
Jesus met His mother Mary along the way. There is no greater pain that I can imagine than that of a parent loosing a child. Can you imagine the pain in Mary’s heart watching Jesus being humiliated, persecuted and suffering to such an extreme knowing that He was on His way to die?
Here we should stop and think about the fourth joyous mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple. This joyous mystery is also one of the Seven Dolors of Mary for it was at the Presentation that the high priest Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce her heart. This was a, good news, bad news experience. Indeed, so is the Passion but in reverse. The bad news is that Mary had to endure such pain and that Christ subjected Himself to such horror. The good news is that Mary willingly agreed to be the mother of Christ and stayed ever faithful in spite, of the pains that it caused her. The best news is that Christ went through the Passion for our salvation. Once again, this is a time to stop and say, “Thank you” to both Mary and to Jesus.
Also, along the way, Veronica, who was overcome with grief, wiped the face of Jesus. She knew that there was nothing she could do to stop what was happening. She knew that there was nothing that she could do to bring real comfort to Jesus. But at that moment, at least she could wipe his face.
No doubt, Jesus appreciated Veronica’s expression and showed it by leaving His image on the cloth. Do we appreciate it when we are going through a tough time and someone does some insignificant thing for us because they simply want to let us know that they care? Or do we wish that they would just leave us alone so that we can drown in our misery? Are we willing to help others in their time of need, or do we say that there is nothing that we can do and turn our backs?
Pilot had the inscription put on the Cross which read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” The chief priests wanted the inscription to be changed but Pilot said, “What I have written, I have written.”
Such was the hate that was in the hearts of the chief priests who were not satisfied even though they had gotten their way with Jesus being sentenced to death. They simply could not stand the fact that the inscription had “King of the Jews” written on it. Pilot on the other hand was just fed up. I wonder if Pilot wrote what he wrote out of spite because he was pressured into doing something which he did not want to do and because he knew the hate and envy within the chief priest’s hearts. Or maybe Pilot did not even realize that what he had written was what the Father wanted the inscription to say. Remember what Jesus had said to Pilot while being questioned earlier, "You say I am a king."
The soldiers took the clothes of Jesus and divided them into four parts, a part for each of them. But the tunic was seamless, so they cast lots for it which fulfilled the Scripture, “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” Obviously, the soldiers had no clue that they were fulfilling this Scripture. I wonder if anybody there did. Surely there should have been at least one of the Jews witnessing what was going on who knew.
Have you ever taken anything away from Jesus? You have if you have given up on going to church or if you have persuaded someone else to leave their church. There is nothing which is more precious to God than us. That is the reason for the Passion in the first place. When you give up on church, you are taking yourself away from Him. Now I know that there are people who will take exception to that. They claim that they don’t have to go to church to be with God. Guess again.
Jesus was a Jew and practiced His religion. Jesus preached and taught in many places, but He also spent a great deal of time in the synagogues and temples. If He did not want us to go to church, Jesus would not have said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” If Jesus did not want us to go to church, He would not have spent so much time in the synagogues and temples Himself. He surely did not like what was going on with the Pharisees and chief priests, but Jesus was faithful in practicing His religion. Please go back to church. Never mind the fact that people there, including clergy, are broken. Guess what? We are all broken!
Standing by the cross were His mother Mary, her sister who was Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary of Magdala and John. Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” To John Jesus said, “Behold your mother.”
This is the second time in Jesus’ life that He addressed Mary as Woman. The first time was at the Wedding at Cana. John 2:1-12 Again we have to look at Genesis 3:15. Jesus is identifying Mary as that woman. When Jesus told John, that Mary was his mother, Jesus was identifying Mary as the New Eve. Jesus was letting the world know that Mary is our mother in heaven. It was the Father’s Will that our mother in heaven be without sin. This is why Mary was chosen to be the earthly mother of Jesus and the New Eve. This is one of the reasons why Catholics honor and pray to Mary. We do not worship her because she is not God, but we honor her and her relationship with God.
Jesus was mocked on the Cross by passers-by and the chief priest. But Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” One of the mysteries of the Trinity which is impossible for the human mind to comprehend is the fact that the Son understands us in our humanity more completely than the Father or the Spirit because it is the Son who lived as a man and gave His life for mankind. That is why Jesus is our intercessor with the Father and Jesus demonstrated that from the cross when He asked the Father to forgive His persecutors.
There were two other men who were also crucified on either side of Jesus. One of them reviled Jesus telling Him to save Himself and them. But the other criminal, St. Dismas, said, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly…but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
This moment of forgiving, to me is one of the most powerful moments in the life of Jesus. He forgave His persecutors and He forgave St. Dismas. All Christians believe that God is forgiving but I ask this question to all who do not accept the Sacrament of Reconciliation—Confession: How can you believe in the cross and not accept the Sacrament of Confession? That sacrament took place on the cross when St. Dismas confessed and was granted absolution with the promise of being with Jesus in Paradise that day.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a cry of distress calling for Elijah and comes from Psalm 22. Some of the people there knew this. According, to John’s Gospel, in order that the Scripture, be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” So, they soaked a sponge in wine and gave it to Jesus on a hyssop sprig. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Jesus bowed His head and said, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, Jesus dies on the Cross.
If you read Psalm 22, you will see that the events as they were unfolding at that moment are a match to what David cried out. Some of the people there only came to believe because they could see Scripture being fulfilled in front of their eyes. Do we really need God to go to such an extreme to get our attention? Sadly, yes, we do. Some of the people who witnessed the crucifixion still refused to believe. There are people today who won’t believe.
People have a difficult time believing something which cannot be proven in a tangible way. God does not always give us tangible proof. That does not stop us from needing to believe. Jesus said more than once that He does not have to prove Himself. Jesus also reminded us when He was being tempted by the devil in the desert that we should not put the Lord our God to the test. If we exercise our faith by praying with open minds and open hearts and a willingness to listen, God will talk to us and give us all of the proof we need.
Some people have a problem with the crucifix. They don’t want to look at it or have it in their home. There are too many Non-Catholic Christian churches in which you will not find a crucifix. A cross is okay, but they have a problem with a crucifix. Could this be because of guilt? We should surround ourselves with the crucifix. It should be a reminder of the Passion for us. We should look at it with emotions of great sorrow and remorse. But we should also be able to look at a crucifix with a smile full of praise and glory and infinite gratitude and say, “Thank You Jesus” because without the death of Jesus on the cross, there could be no Resurrection which means that there could be no salvation.
It was about three in the afternoon. Great darkness came over the land because of an eclipse, the veil in the temple was torn down the middle from top to bottom and the earth quaked.
I don’t know about you but if I was at Calvary that afternoon, I could have been the biggest non-believer in the world, but I would have had a complete conversion real fast! Indeed, Luke tells us that the centurion who witnessed what happened, glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” Luke also tells us, “When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance…”
During those days, beating one’s breast was a sign of remorse. Catholics sometimes strike their breasts in prayer. An example of this is when the Confiteor is said at Mass during the line, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” Catholics will strike their breasts three times. No doubt, the people who were there and stayed to watch Jesus die knew what they had done. Anyone with a conscience feels bad when they do something wrong, but these people just took part in killing the Messiah and they knew it. Can you imagine the sorrow and remorse in their hearts?
Do you think that Jesus’ acquaintances wanted to say to the people, “We told you so?” I think not. Christ would have never wanted them to have such thoughts cross their minds and I am sure that they did not. But: what about us? When we have been proven right about something are, we quick to say, I told you so.” Some of us just can’t resist. If ever there was a time in history when someone would have been justified for taking advantage of that opportunity, it was then. But Jesus’ acquaintances did not do that and we should learn a lesson from them.
Because of the hour and because it was the day of preparation before the Sabbath, they wanted to remove the bodies from the crosses. It was the custom to break the knees of the crucified bodies to make sure that they were dead. But they could see that Jesus had died. Still, one of the soldiers threw a lance into the side of Jesus and out came blood and water. John tells us that this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” Another passage says, “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”
When the Eucharist is celebrated at Mass, the priest mixes water with the wine symbolizing the blood and water that came from Christ on the Cross. Christ was the Lamb who gave His life in sacrifice for our sins. Remember the Passover dinner. The lamb shall have no broken bones.
The passage, “They will look upon him whom they have pierced,” makes reference to Numbers 21:9 and Zechariah 12:10. According to these Scriptures, those who looked upon Him with grief would receive forgiveness healing and grace. Remember, that is what happened to the Israelites who looked upon the serpent on the pole that was lifted up by Moses in the desert. Numbers 21:4-9 This is also another reason why we should embrace the sight of a crucifix with sorrow but also with gratitude and joy.
Joseph of Arimathea, who was secretly a disciple of Jesus went to Pilot and asked for the body of Jesus for burial. Pilot, who was surprised that Jesus was already dead, granted the request and Joseph took the body of Jesus to a tomb which he had prepared for himself. Nicodemus went with him bringing myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They wrapped Jesus’ body in burial cloths along with spices and buried Him according, to Jewish custom. Then they rolled a huge stone across the entrance.
Considering the torture that Jesus had been put through, why was Pilot surprised? Even though he was not a Jew, Pilot had to be aware of the Sabbath and that the Jews wanted the body off of the cross, so again, why was he surprised? I am at a loss. I can only speculate that it was the influence which his wife had on him because of the things that she told him from her dream. She had told Pilot to have nothing to do with that righteous man. She told Pilot that she had suffered greatly because of a dream about him. So, was Pilot really surprised thinking that maybe; Jesus would not die? Or was he afraid to hear the news?
Jesus was laid to rest with great generosity and affection. Joseph gave his own personal burial place away. How many people are willing to do that unless it is to someone in the immediate family? Nicodemus brought one hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes. Even during the time of Christ, myrrh was expensive.
What signs of generosity and affection do we offer to Christ for what He did for us? All He wants is for us to love Him and to do our best to live according to His Father’s Will. That’s the best deal you will get anywhere or from anyone and it does not cost a thing!
The Passion of the Lord is God’s Passion but it also becomes our passion when we remember that Christ carried the sins of the entire world on His shoulders and took them to the cross. When we remember this event with grief and remorse, we share the Passion.
But let us always remember that our Lord and Savior made Himself the “sacrificial lamb” by His own choosing and He was happy to do it. It brings great joy to God when He is able, to save us and bring us to be with Him in heaven. This is why when we look at a crucifix or remember this day; we should also experience great joy and in appreciation say, “Thank You, Jesus. Amen!”
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