“Have mercy on me, God, for I am treated harshly; attackers press me all the day. My foes treat me harshly all the day; yes, many are my attackers. O Most High, when I am afraid, in you I place my trust. God, I praise your promise; in you I trust, I do not fear. What can mere mortals do to me? I have made vows to you, God; with offerings I will fulfill them.” (Psalm 56:2-3, 11-13, NAB)
“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 19:31-37, NAB)
“The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events. Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.” (Luke 23:47-53, NAB)
“…Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NAB)
Tenebrae factae sunt… Shadows covered the earth…the sun was darkened…the earth shook…the curtains of the temple was torn in two…up on the dark and windy hill of Golgotha…Jesus freely died like a sinner…the Blood of the Lamb was shed…to wash away all our sins.
Piercing through the dark storm clouds, thunder and lightning…one can hear the cries…loud wailing heard throughout Jerusalem.
“In that day there shall be a great lamentation in Jerusalem… the land shall mourn…” (Zechariah 12:11-12, Douay Rheims)
Time stood still… the wicked soldiers had received orders to break the legs of the crucified and get rid of the dead bodies before Sabbath. (John 19:31) Now that the ‘show’ was over, many of the people in the crowd make their way home to prepare for the Sabbath.
However, quietly under the silence of the Cross, stood Mother Mary and a few others, remembering these words of Jesus…
“For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8, Douay Rheims)
As darkness continues to envelope the land, two ‘secret’ disciples of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus stood near the Cross, getting ready to bring down the limp body of Jesus for a proper burial.
These two, well-respected in the community, risk everything, including their reputation, to obtain the body of Jesus, a so-called ‘condemned criminal’ in the eyes of the ‘law’.
The two men and a few others climb up, unfasten the nails and removed the crown of thorns. They brought the Savior’s body down from the Cross…into the loving and tender embrace of His Mother. Mary held Him ever so tightly and pressed Jesus to her bosom; like the first night in Bethlehem. The others bowed and knelt in homage whilst shepherds and their flock passing by quietly in the lowland of the valley.
Mary, like many others, struggled to comprehend everything that has happened. Never did she realize that the sword that pierced the soul of a mother be this painful… Yet, she trusted God…
“For with God nothing will be impossible. Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:37-38, RSV)
Mary grappled with reality…her limp, disfigured and bloodied Son now in her very arms…how can my soul magnify…how can my spirit rejoice…how can future generations call me blessed…when I cannot even protect my Son?
Mary, who used to bring the sunshine into Jesus’ life, is now not able to brighten, even so slightly, the darkness at Golgotha. Jesus quietly lies in the arms of His Mother. To a mother, no child ever grows up.
“…I wait for you, O Lord; I lift up my soul to my God. In you I trust; do not let me be disgraced; do not let my enemies gloat over me. No one is disgraced who waits for you, but only those who lightly break faith. Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. For you I wait all the long day, because of your goodness, Lord.” (Psalm 25:1-5, NAB)
Mary and a few others gently and quietly wiped and cleaned the holy Body of Jesus…anointed the Body…with spices and myrrh…wrapped it up tightly with pure fine linen…the final token of love for Him.
Joseph, the courageous rich man, then took the Body of Christ, and laid it in his new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. Then he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and departed.
“Born in a stranger’s cave, buried in a stranger’s grave, both human birth and death were strangers to His Divinity. Stranger’s grave too, because since sin was foreign to Him, so too was death. Dying for others, He was placed in another’s grave. His grave was borrowed, for He would give it back on Easter, as He gave back the beast that He rode on Palm Sunday, and the Upper Room which He used for the Last Supper.” (p401, Life of Christ, Fulton J Sheen)
Mother Mary and a few others remained opposite the sepulchre watching, waiting…praying.
“O Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother, let me kneel with you beside the lifeless body of your beloved Son. Obtain for me the grace to be loyal to Him by walking in the way of His commandments. Obtain for me especially the grace to receive Him worthily in Holy Communion until I am united with Him and with you for all eternity.” (p129, Queen of Apostles Prayerbook)
As we quietly ponder almost the end of the Via Dolorosa, may the meaningful words from Psalm 71 of the beautiful Jerusalem Bible soothe you…LISTEN if you have ears...