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  • Sr Siobhán

The salvation of all is at hand

Good Friday

Reading: John 19: 13-31 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judges’ bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ The chief priest answered, “We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, He went out to what is called the place The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘let us not tear it but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scriptures say, ‘They divided my clothes amongst themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’ And this is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom He loved standing beside her, He said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour, the disciple took her into his home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, He said, (in order to fulfil the scriptures) ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had finished the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then He bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Reflection In this passage, the most significant events of salvation history take place. Pilate recognises Jesus as King of the Jews but does not have the strength of character or conviction of soul to save his life. Cowing to the pressure of the crowd, he handed Jesus over to be crucified. Jesus willingly accepts the will of the Father and embraces His destiny carrying His cross to Golgotha; a few hours earlier He had cried out, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ (Matthew 26:39) Robbed of all human dignity Jesus is crucified between two thieves. However, his dying moments were not allowed to pass in vain; with characteristic compassion He responded in love to the cry of one of these men and offered him redemption. (Luke 23: 42-43) Pilate does not miss an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the kingship of Jesus and placed an inscription over his cross that stated, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ This action was not enough to save the life of an innocent man but it was a publicly declaration of who Jesus was.

As Jesus’ life ebbed away, His humiliation continued. The soldiers fulfilled the words of scripture ‘They divided my clothes amongst themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’

In his dying moments, the thoughts of Jesus were for other people. Upholding the great love He had for his mother, he commended her to the care of his beloved disciple; He then entrusted humanity to her maternal care. However, the horror that overshadowed this crucifixion continued. Drained and exhausted, Jesus cried out, ‘I am thirsty.’ Devoid of all compassion, the soldiers responded with violence; ‘they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.’ Jesus consumed the wine; Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit. The liberation of all humanity was at hand.

Prayer Lord, I ask forgiveness for the times when I have denied you; when I have handed you over to be crucified; when I have pierced your side with a lance, and left you to die on your cross. In your great mercy, Lord, forgive us all, Amen.


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