Reading: Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:42.
Good morning, Happy Holy Friday, and many blessings my dear family.
In reflecting on the Passion (John 18:1–19:42), St Ignatius invites us to notice how Jesus’ divinity is hidden. He allows others to treat him unjustly, violently, to be abused, insulted, manhandled. And all this for me.
Only today if I find some silence in my heart can I enter this great mystery of suffering love. Words seem superfluous. I read the passage I know so well with an open heart, full of devotion and gratitude for the great love Jesus has for me, dwelling on those words or incidents that touch me more deeply. Perhaps looking at a painting of the Passion will help me enter more into the events of this day.
There are four 'acts' in the passion of Jesus: his arrest; his interrogation by the High Priest, his trial before Pilate; his crucifixion and burial. I watch him as he moves through these scenes. I observe how he seems gentle calm and look at the impact he has on others.
Pilate’s name lives on in history with a sad reputation – contained in these well-known words, ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate’. Yet we should not judge him. The story that he later converted to believe in Jesus may well be true. He himself was not hostile to Jesus. He even wanted to know more about the Son of God, asking him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus’ answer that his kingdom was not of this world must have puzzled him, and made him more cautious. Christ’s claim to be the truth must have sent a shudder through the governor, as he puzzled was he acting rightly. But his caution got the better of him.
Jesus is apparently a prisoner, the powerless one on whom others act. But he is the protagonist, the chief actor throughout, behaving and speaking with sovereign freedom. Where does this freedom come from? Who is really on trial in the exchange with Pilate? Who has the real authority? Jesus is the Truth, Pilate does not know what truth is. Am I a person of truth? They took Jesus to Calvary and crucified him there. It looked a brutal act, but what splendor was shining through it! The cross ever stands as a symbol of power in weakness. The thirst of Christ on the Cross is only a mirror of the depths of his prayer and longing.
I watch him subjected to disgraceful injustice and unspeakable torture and humiliation as he moves through his passion. He does not protest or cry out. How do I respond to injustice, ill-treatment, humiliation in my own life? What can I learn from him? 'I thirst.' Jesus once promised the Samaritan woman the water of eternal life with God, the life to which he is now going and for which he longs. He offers that water to us.
My sisters and brothers, Good Friday puts the cross before me and challenges me not to look away. If I have followed Jesus’ footsteps to Calvary, I do not have to fear because I, like him, am confident in God's enduring presence. Wherever there is suffering or pain, I look again, seeking the face of Jesus. I ask him for the strength I need to be a sign of hope wherever there is despair, to be a presence of love wherever it is most needed.