“We adore You, O Christ, and we bless you, because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.” (Prayer from the Stations of the Cross)
Reflections on the readings for Good Friday (April 15, 2022): IS 52:13--53:12; PS 31:2,6,12-13,15-16,17,25; HEB 4:14-16;5:7-9; JN 18:1--19:42
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
This is an emotional day for us. We think about all Jesus endured. It should also be a day of supreme gratitude.
The Passion of Jesus Christ underlies our faith. On Good Friday we hear again the extraordinary events that led to our Savior’s death and that take us from His arrest in the garden to the cross and, finally, to the tomb. However, because we know the story so well, unless we make a singular effort to listen, to look, to meditate, we may miss something we cannot afford to forget. The Son of God and of Mary was tortured physically in an incredibly brutal way. He also had to endure the cowardice of friends, the fickleness of crowds, and the determined injustice of those who exercised power. The words of the Gospel create scenes with our Lord at the center, but with other people willingly fulfilling roles that, with a few notable exceptions, contribute to His grief and pain. Pontius Pilate asks the people to choose between rescuing the life of Barabbas, a revolutionary, or Jesus of Nazareth. So the gentle healer, the merciful teacher, the lover of His Father as well as of every human being who has ever lived, was condemned. “Pilate took Him and had Him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head, and clothed Him in a purple cloak, and came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they struck Him repeatedly. … And (Pilate) said to them, ‘Behold the man!’ When the chief priests and the guards saw Him they cried out, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’” (John 19:1-3,5-6)
St. Teresa of Avila wrote about what it can mean if we take the trouble to Behold the man! -- especially if we feel a kinship with His Passion. “If you are experiencing trials or are sad, behold Him … for having become suffering itself, He tells us about it. … So much suffering, persecuted by some, spit on by others, denied by His friends, abandoned by them, with no one to defend Him. …He will forget His sorrows so as to console you in yours, merely because you yourselves go to Him to be consoled.” This is an emotional day for us. We think about all Jesus endured. It should also be a day of supreme gratitude. The broken body of our Redeemer will soon rise up -- and He will not leave us behind.
Suggested missionary action: “Behold the man!” Let us take a good look at Jesus. Let us see what He suffered. The transgressions of our ancestors and of all humankind cried out “Crucify Him!” We need to recognize our own sins, just as we need to seek and accept Christ’s forgiveness and compassion.