Good Friday ~ The Passion

GOOD FRIDAY

 Christ on the Cross

GOSPEL – John xviii and xix.   At that time Jesus went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place: because Jesus had often resorted thither together with his disciples. Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers, and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them: Whom seek ye? They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he: they went backward, and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way. That the word might be fulfilled, which he had said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost anyone. Then Simon Peter having a sword, drew it: and struck the servant of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus. Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my father hath given me, shall not I drink it? Then the band and the tribune, and the servants of the Jews took Jesus and bound him: And they led him away to Annas first, for he was father-in-law to Caiphas, who was the high-priest of that year. Now Caiphas was he who had given the counsel to the Jews: That it was expedient that one man should die for the people. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. And that disciple was known to the high-priest, and went in with Jesus into the court of the high-priest. But Peter stood at the door without. The other disciple therefore who was known to the high-priest, went out, and spoke to the portress, and brought in Peter. The maid therefore that was portress, saith to Peter: Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith: I am not. Now the servants and ministers stood at a fire of coals, because it was cold, and warmed themselves. And with them was Peter also standing, and warming himself. The high-priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him: I have spoken openly to the world: I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort; and in secret I have spoken nothing. Why asketh thou me? ask them who have heard what I have spoken unto them : behold they know what things have said. And when he had said these things, one of the servants standing by, gave Jesus a blow, saying: Answerest thou the highpriest so? Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil: but if well, why strikest thou me? And Annas sent him bound to Caiphas the high-priest. And Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him: Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it and said: I am not. One of the servants of the high-priest (a kinsman to him whose ear Peter cut off) saith to him: Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Then Peter again denied: and immediately the cock crew. Then they led Jesus from Caiphas to the governor’s hall. And it was morning : and they went not into the hall, that they might not be denied, but that they might eat the pasch. Pilate therefore went out to them, and said: What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said to him: If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. Pilate then said to them: Take him you, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which he said, signifying what death he should die. Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief-priests have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest, that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he said this he went out again to the Jews, and said to them: I find no cause in him. But you have a custom that I should release one unto you at the pasch; will you therefore that I release unto you the king of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying: Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber. Then therefore Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head: and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him and said: Hail, king of the Jews: and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him. (Jesus therefore came forth bearing the crown of thorns, and the purple garment.) And he saith to them: Behold the Man.  When the chief-priests therefore and the servants had seen him, they cried out, saying: Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Take him you, and crucify him: for I find no cause in him. The Jews answered him: We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore had heard this saying, he feared the more. And he entered into the hall again: and he said to Jesus: Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him: Speakest thou not to me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee? Jesus answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore he that hath delivered me to thee, hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him. But the Jews cried out, saying: If you release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend; for whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar.

Now when Pilate had heard these words, he brought Jesus forth: and sat down in the judgment-seat, in the place that is called Lithostrotos, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the Parasceve of the Pasch, about the sixth hour, and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king? But they cried out: Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Shall I crucify your king? The chief-priests answered: We have no king but Caesar. Then, therefore, he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth. And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew, Golgotha: where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side: and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. This title therefore, many of the Jews did read, because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. Then the chief-priests of the Jews said to Pilate: write not, The king of the Jews: but that he said, I am the king of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written. The soldiers, therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments (and they made four parts: to every soldier a part), and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be. That the Scripture might be fulfilled saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple, standing, whom he loved, he saith to his mother : Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own. Afterwards Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they put a sponge full of vinegar, about hyssop, and put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.

[Here all kneel, and pause a little, to meditate on the redemption of mankind.]

 Then the Jews (because it was the Parasceve), that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath-day (for that was a great Sabbath-day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers, therefore, came: and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it hath given testimony: and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true: that you also may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture might be fulfilled. You shall not break a bone of him: And again another Scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced.

[Here the prayer Munda cor mcum from the Ordinary of the Mass is said.]

 And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore and took away the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus also came, he who at the first came to Jesus by night, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight.  They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now there was in the place where he was crucified a garden: and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the Parasceve of the Jews they laid Jesus; because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

 THE PASSION OF OUR LORD

Today I will relate to you not the glories and triumphs, but the ignominies, the sorrows, the sufferings, the death of our divine Redeemer Jesus Christ. It should be told with tears; but alas, we do not feel so sensibly the afflictions of Our Lord, nor have we such lively sympathy for Him that we can shed tears. Still it has happened that holy preachers could not speak of the Passion without weeping. Father Louis of Grenada ascended the pulpit one Good Friday to preach on the Passion. He gave out the subject of his discourse, “The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” but he broke out into a loud wail, and could not proceed; after a while, calming his feelings, he again began and spoke for a time on the Passion of Our Lord, and told how He suffered for sinners and for His enemies; but he again broke down, and this time he could resume only in accents broken by bitter tears, and, finally, was obliged to leave the pulpit. Such was the effect of his tears on his listeners that they also could not restrain their lamentations. If you listen attentively to my recital, you, too, will feel moved, and will feel contrition for your sins, which in reality were the cause of the Passion and death of Christ.

After Our Lord had fed His disciples on His own flesh, and had given them His own sacred blood to drink, He turned with inexpressible love to them, and said, “My dear children, My disciples, I have but little time left to remain with you. I must now leave you; but love one another and wish one another that good which I have desired for you. Do not weep; I will not leave you orphans, I will send you the Holy Ghost: it is time now to depart; rise.” Then leaving the cenacle He crossed the brook Cedron and entered the garden of Gethsemani, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Here He remained with His three faithful disciples, Peter, James and John.  “My clear disciples,” He said; “My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here and watch. Then He prayed to His divine Father that the bitter chalice of His Passion might pass by, but “Thy will be done and not Mine.” Prostrate on the ground He began to sweat blood, His clothes were saturated with it, the earth drank it in. Who is at His side to comfort Him? No one; not even His Apostles or disciples. Now we see a band coming, headed by that ungrateful disciple Judas, with orders from the synagogue to apprehend Our Lord. Ah, my dear Lord, Thou art delivered to the Jews by a once beloved disciple. See that sacrilegious man impressing a kiss on the innocent Master! Jesus calls Judas by the name of friend, in order that He might perhaps revive sentiments of former intimacy and love. We see, dear Lord, that Thou dost feel for that unfortunate wretch, who is about to lose his soul, and Thou dost not spare the invitation, that he might repent of the step already taken; but Judas is the slave of avarice. There is nothing harder than the heart of an avaricious man. Judas had received the body and blood of his divine Master with a soul stained with sin, and when a man has been guilty of this great crime, there is no excess to which he will not go.

Our Lord asked the band of soldiers and ruffians whom they sought. They said, “Jesus” He said, “I am He;“ and at these words all fell backward to the ground. Peter, in his zeal for the defense of the Master, drew his sword, and cut off the ear of the servant of the high-priest. He was reprehended for this hasty action by Our Lord, who healed the servant on the spot. Now they come on with great violence; they bind Jesus, and drag Him to the court, and though He is declared innocent, He is bound to the column of flagellation to be scourged; you hear the dull sounds of the lash, the repeated blows of the heavy scourges, the loud breathing of the soldiers, who are putting all their strength into the punishment. Jesus is now pale and  trembling; streams of blood flow from every member of His body; the column is covered with blood; blood is spattered on the faces and clothes of the executioners; the floor is red with it. The number of stripes run up to the thousands, so that this divine Redeemer has lost all likeness to a man, He is one wound from head to foot. The executioners, in the meantime, continue their scourging; and when one body of men is tired, another takes its place. Jesus suffers all in silence. What barbarity and unheard of cruelty! My sins and yours, my dear friends, thus chastise the innocent body of Jesus, especially those grave sins of impurity. When this cruel scourging was ended, the wicked Jews formed a circle around Our Lord, and in their barbarity invented other tortures; they plaited a crown of sharp thorns and pressed it down on His head, and over His temples, so that the thorns penetrated deep into the flesh. What great suffering did Jesus endure in this! Then they put on Him some old purple rags, placed a reed in His hand, bandaged His eyes, and genuflected before Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They spat on Him, struck Him in the face, and then asked, “Who is it that struck Thee?” O, uncreated wisdom! 0, infinite majesty! 0, omnipotent power of my God! to what lowliness hast Thou been reduced!

In this manner do those youths treat Our Lord who publicly blaspheme God and His holy religion. So horribly disfigured was our divine Redeemer that Pilate thought he might easily induce the bloodthirsty crowd of Jews to have some pity if he brought Him forth and showed Him to them. This he did, and pointing to Our Lord exclaimed, “Behold the man!” You feared He would make Himself king, but see to what a condition He is reduced! He has been treated worse than a slave. Does not this pitiful figure move you to compassion? But they cried out, more like tigers than men, “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” Then Pilate said, “Whom will you that I release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ?” And they preferred Barabbas, an infamous thief and murderer.

Our divine Redeemer is unjustly condemned to death, the death of the cross. He embraces it, places it on His shoulders and begins the dreadful journey to Calvary. Falling several times under the great weight of the cross He is assisted by the Cyrenian, and He continues His sorrowful journey, followed by a crowd of weeping women, to whom Our Lord says: “Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” On the way Our Lord meets His Sorrowful Mother. Jesus looks upon her and Mary regards Jesus. What a meeting between Mother and Son! Mary continues the journey with Jesus to the summit of Calvary. When He had arrived there, the executioners attack Our Lord with fury; tear His garments from Him, and strip Him naked. His wounds are torn open anew, and the blood streams from them again. O cruel soldiers, why use such violence on this innocent Lamb, who is so willing to stretch Himself on -the cross and to be nailed to it! They seize Him, and force Him down, kneel on His breast, and violently draw His arms, with cords, over the cross-beam; another comes with a hammer and a great iron nail, and this at the first stroke enters into the palm of His hand, opening veins and arteries; they do the same to His other hand and to His feet. 0, what were the sufferings which Our Lord endured in His crucifixion! When the Jews had nailed Him to the cross, they sent up shouts of victory; raised the cross to the view of all, and then let it suddenly sink into the hole prepared to make it stand upright. Those executioners, instead of feeling the least sympathy for Jesus, now stand before the cross, blaspheming and reviling Him; but Our Lord raises His eyes to His Father in heaven, and begs pardon for them, for they know not what they do. Then Our Lord hears the prayer of the penitent thief, and turning to him a countenance full of love, He promises that this day he shall be with Him in paradise. My dear young friends who have sinned, Jesus has His ears open ready to hear you, His arms are extended to receive you; He has welcomed the thief, He will also receive you with open arms, provided you ask pardon for your sins.

Then Jesus turns His face to His beloved Mother and to His disciple John, and says, “Woman, behold thy son; son, behold thy Mother.” In doing this He commended us all as His children to Mary our Mother. Thus hanging on the cross, all covered with wounds, the last drop of His blood draining from His body, thirsty with exhaustion and from love of our souls, Jesus cries out, “I thirst.” And they give Him wine mixed with gall. Yes, my dear Lord, we understand; you call for our souls; we give them to you; you wish to call us to our salvation, and we desire it also.

All at once the sun is darkened, the whole earth is clothed in darkness, and trembles with a great earthquake. Jesus now wishes to die and cries out with a loud voice, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit. It is consummated,” and inclining His head, He gives up the ghost.

Jesus is dead, that dear Jesus, who was born for us in the poor stable at Bethlehem. He is dead, who loved us so much, who labored so hard to instruct us; He who worked so many miracles; who travelled up and down through the land of the Jews, doing good everywhere. The most beautiful, the dearest, the most amiable Son of man has died on the cross for us. 0, barbarous Jews, what have you done? You have committed murder on the Son of God, the Author of life! But, no, not the Jews only we, also, blind sinners, have done this to the Son of God. Isaias says, “He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins.” All these cruel ties that were inflicted on Him were the work of our hands.

St. Teresa wrote her general confession on a sheet of paper, and then taking the crucifix in her hand and casting a sorrowful look at it, said: “What have I done?” She looked at the wounds in His hands and feet and then at the paper, “What have I done?” A look at the head crowned with thorns, at the side opened with a lance, “Ah! what have I done?” She then fell on the floor in a swoon, and lay as one dead. Her sisters rushed in and administered restoratives, and coming to she again cried out: “What have I done?” Should not this be our sorrow also? What have we done? How often have we forced the crown of thorns on that sacred head by our bad thoughts? How often have we driven great nails into the hands and feet of the Lord by our sins? How often have we given Our Lord vinegar and gall to drink, by our scandalous language? How often have we pierced the side of Our Lord, by corrupting souls? 0, Lord Jesus, have mercy on us, forgive us the sins we have committed against Thee; never again will we renew Thy

Passion and death; we shall constantly bewail our faults; we shall live for Thy glory, and we shall always love Thee with all our hearts.

 

 

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