Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This Holy Week of Lent 2011, we continue to ponder on our journey with Jesus, who “went out, carrying His Cross, to the place called “the place of the skull”, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17). I continue to pray that the reflection of these holy steps of Christ’s journey will quietly speak to your heart, especially this Holy Week.
“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226
“After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for the Sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe. For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” And again another passage says: “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”” (John 19:28-37, NAB)
“Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me. They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar. Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me.” (Psalm 22:13-15, NAB)
“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood.” (Isaiah 53:7-9, NAB)
Lord Jesus, you noticed a few more savage soldiers gathered around you, getting ready to set the beams of the Cross upright, swaying it to and fro…into the dug-out hole of Golgotha, waiting to swallow it. As this was being performed, your whole body shook with pain with each vibration.
Now that the Cross was upright, the weight of your entire body centered on your hands and feet...you went into trauma…cramps pulled every muscle…your arms turned numb supporting your entire weight, it is simply so difficult to breathe. You struggled and looked up…the entire landscape of Jerusalem, became visible - the Holy City.
“I looked about, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that there was no one to lend support; so my own arm brought about the victory and my own wrath lent me its support.” (Isaiah 63:5, NAB)
“Hear my cry for help, my king, my God! To you I pray, O Lord…” (Psalm 5:3, NAB)
The final hour has truly come… Jesus saw John and Mary Magdalene fell prostrate to the ground in grief near the foot of the Cross. Your Mother, Mary was embracing the foot of the Cross, supported by Salome and Mary of Cleophas. What words can express the deep grief of a Mother seeing her Son in such an inhumane condition? The pain that surely pierced her heart.
“And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35, Duoay Rheims)
Mother Mary, upon recalling the prophesy of Simeon in the temple of Jerusalem, looked deeply into the swollen eyes of her beloved Son and pondered quietly in her heart; conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a Virgin, the flesh of her flesh, the bone of her bone, the heart of her heart, the blood of her blood – now hanging on the wooden beams between two criminals - crucified, disfigured, abused, condemned by the very people whom He came to redeem.
My Son, you loved everyone, you leave everyone free to choose you or reject you. Though you are the Son of God, you never forced anyone to follow you. All these time, Precious Jesus, you only stood at the door of our hearts and knock…waiting for our response.
It is now about three o’clock…it is almost time…the mission of Jesus is almost finished. You looked at the skyline of Jerusalem…every step, every breath, every wound, every drop of precious blood; every fall…everything on the path to Golgotha has been worth it…the benefits to my people will be eternal. People of all generations can now find strength to similarly travel the hard, difficult and narrow path in life towards a more perfect union with you, Jesus.
“Death is going home, yet people are afraid of what will come, so they do not want to die. If we do, if there is no mystery, we will not be afraid. There is also the question of conscience – “I could have done better.” Very often as we live, so we die. Death is nothing but a continuation of life… This life is not the end; people who believe it is, fear death. If it was properly explained that death was nothing but going home to God, then there would be no fear,” – Mother Teresa
Jesus, although your entire body has been bruised, battered and marked in some way…your head is bursting from the blows…your back is torn apart...your heart is broken with sorrow…your hands and feet are pierced...yet, your soul is simply serene and empty...waiting to be filled by the perpetual Light of Heaven.
“…I was as a meek lamb…that is carried to be a victim…” (Jeremiah 11:19, Douay Rheims)
Sinless, spotless, pure…Jesus paid more than the full price of sin to redeem humanity. Noise, cruel insults and confusion continue to surround Golgotha… Jesus, you have heard every thought of humanity…vibrating deep within your heart. You knew that they just do not understand…like little children…you loved them all.
“…Father, forgive them, they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:24, NAB)
As you continue to hang from the Cross, wave after wave of temptation came sweeping in to your weakened and despaired mind…worst than the 40 days in the desert…Jesus was tempted by Satan, so that He will use His power selfishly to change the course of human salvation…to just saving Himself.
“…Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it: save thy own self: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matthew 27:40, Douay Rheims)
On the Cross, Jesus thirsts…for God...
“O God, you are my God-- for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.” (Psalm 63:2, NAB)
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?” (Psalm 22:2, NAB)
“I stretch out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land…hasten to answer me, Lord; for my spirit fails me. Do not hide your face from me…” (Psalm 143:6-7, NAB)
“And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, NAB)
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46, NAB)
“…It is finished.” (John 19:30, NAB)
“Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, faithful God.” (Psalm 31:6, NAB)
The skies gradually became darker…and darker…the earth shook…
In silence, we bow down…we kneel…we simply contemplate quietly. Words simply cannot express…the cries from within the depths of our hearts…
“Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42, Douay Rheims)
“My life has become a great burden to me, because it deprives me of true life. I know, because the Lord prolongs my life, that this is his will. And yet I am never able, despite all my strivings, to make an act of true resignation – having continually before my mind’s eye the knowledge that it is only through death that one finds true life.”