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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cross or The Crucifix?...A Simple Reflection

Here is sharing with you a simple reflection as we journey towards the Easter Vigil of the Holy Triduum.

Why would millions of people around the world today want to follow and have relationship with a man hanging on the gallows – the Cross…the Crucifix?

It is just so out of this world…so morbid…so repulsive…such an unsuitable sight…so crude…such an awful instrument of torture.  Many people have resorted to commercialize or to soften the image, eradicating the sombre side, the bloodiness, by removing the figure on the Cross…leaving just a bare Cross…some believe this move to be a better image of the risen Christ…depicting the Cross as the place for true glory…

In the process of doing so, people hope to result in a Christian religion that is more cheerful...more popular...more acceptable...more marketable...   This softened image might have just withdrawn the Cross from the reality of human tragedy.

“A faith which speeds through the idyllic days of Galilee to the Easter garden, with Good Friday missed out, is a faith trivialized, turned into opium of the people, a way of escape.  ….What the eye don’t see the heart don’t grieve about.  …To be truthful, religion too must enter the darkness and face the fact of evil.  …True religion is that which bears the marks of the Passion and is thus able to touch the hearts of those who are haunted by the ghastliness of the world.” (Peter Cornwell, On the River’s Edge)

Ghastliness of the world can be construed as the evils that threatens, diminishes and destroys human fulfillment; poverty, injustice, suffering, human wickedness, indifference, earthquake, famine and disease…all these cast a dark shadow over the world.

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled…” (1 Peter 1:18, 19, Douay Rheims)

Wikipedia defines Crucifix as coming from the Latin Cruci fixus meaning “(one) fixed to a cross” a three dimensional cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus (Latin for "body"); a holy symbol especially important and evident in all the Catholic Church.

Sadly, even in the midst of this Easter Triduum, there are still those that claim to follow Jesus that still do not accept the Cross as a symbol of Christianity; regarding this as idolatry. Some others view it more appropriate to have crosses without the corpus as Jesus has been raised (aiming to focus more on the glory rather than the suffering) – reducing the Cross of its true meaning of the real Cross of Jesus Christ.

Catholics throughout tradition continue to believe that the Cross, an instrument of torture and humiliation, only becomes meaningful with the presence of Jesus Christ on it; the corpus. Jesus was probably the first to embrace the cross on the way to Golgotha, transforming and redefining it into something that is to be revered.  Having said that, the resurrection of Jesus at Easter is similarly exulted no less in many ways within the Catholic Church rich liturgy and apostolic tradition.

“…without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22, Douay Rheims)

This Easter Triduum weekend, we remember that the Cross of Jesus Christ, is not just any two beams of wood.

The precious blood of Jesus shed on the Cross has transformed these cruel wooden beams to becoming a holy instrument for our salvation and redemption for all our sins.  The Passion and Jesus cannot be separated from the Cross.

Ultimately, it is the Crucifix that serves as the holy symbol of our redemption, salvation and hope of eternal life.

When we meditate on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, we solemnly gaze at the Crucifix, we reverently and prayerfully kiss the Crucifix, wear and carry the Crucifix…because we want to remember that our salvation came at the greatest of cost; there was a huge price to be paid by the Son of God for the salvation of humanity.

We remember also the sins of mankind, caused by our fallen nature...our human condition…the suffering Jesus had to endure…the consequences of our sins that nailed the Son of God on the Cross.

The Crucifix reminds us all of the great love of God…that at the end of the day, we are all great sinners in need of His Divine Mercy.

As we move into the hours before Easter…prayerfully gaze at the Crucifix and remember…your journey.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's So Good About This Friday?...

Today, Good Friday, we mourn the brutal death of Jesus…the sinless One…our Redeemer.  Today, we enter into the deep mysteries of faith…a relationship with the one loving God.

We gaze and contemplate on the Cross today…the Cross, whose shadows spans across time and covers all of humanity…the Cross, whose two beams contradict the many seductions of the world…the many pursuits of mankind.

Despite seeing Jesus and witnessing His ministry…listening to His Words…many still choose to deny Him…to reject Him…to crucify Him...  Perhaps, many are actually afraid to acknowledge Him.

It is a human condition that mankind frequently choose to take control of their own lives, make their own destiny and follow the ‘messengers’ rather than hear the radical Truth…the ultimate Truth that points to the one God that is all goodness, all love and almighty…the Truth that points us all to the Kingdom of Heaven…eternal life.

Today, we have the benefit of the Holy Scriptures to point us towards God in our lives, a God to heal our soul and a God to lead us on our journey home.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. A nd the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.  He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.  That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.” (John 1: 1-12, Douay Rheims)

Today, ponder for yourself, in your life, the important question, “What is so good about this Friday for you?”

Love is naturally stronger than death.  That is why perhaps this Friday is so good.  Love Incarnate died for each one of us and transformed the door of death into the portal of eternal life and communion.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Night...Different From All Other Nights...Stay Awhile

This Holy or Maundy Thursday, we set our reflection at two venues in Jerusalem.  The Upper Room, supposedly the site of the Last Supper; where the real presence of the Holy Eucharist and Priesthood was born, and the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went to pray after the Last Supper with his disciples; the place where He was betrayed and subsequently arrested – where the whole Via Dolorosa began.

We have become very familiar with the script of the Last Supper, the Washing of the Disciples’ Feet, Judas the betrayer, the Breaking of Bread, the Wine, transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Christ…the Memorial…Jesus eating a final or last supper with His disciples…the celebration of the Jewish Passover.

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.  Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.  A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.  For anyone, who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-29, NAB)

Then there is the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane where, after just a few hours after the celebration in the Upper Room, sorrowful Jesus Christ sweat blood, prays to His Father in Heaven, facing tremendous pressure…temptation, preparing for His Passion…the Via Dolorosa…the Way of the Cross to Golgotha.

In the Passover, the question posed by the youngest is, “why is this night different from all other nights?”…the child is confused. Similarly, at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus the Son of God knows that this night will be different from all other nights. Jesus can foresee the betrayal, the insults, the torture, the humiliation, the scourging, the crowning of thorns, the falls, the nails, the hammer, the spear, the blood and water gushing forth to give new life and wash away the sins of humanity…the sacrifice.,,the Divine Mercy...

This night is different from all other nights because Jesus knows these are His final hours. What would you do if you knew you had just a few more hours of life, that death is imminent?  How would you live your final hours?  How will you spend your final hours?

Would you sleep it away like the disciples – wasted, tired, depressed, sense of abandonment, feeling alone and give up?

Would you pursue the pleasure of the flesh, wealth and materialism like Judas – not a care for the soul – live for today, even at the expense of others, not to worry about tomorrow?

Would you imitate Jesus – embracing the pain, in service, loving, praying, turning to God, preparing, trusting and accepting?

Life is fragile.  Our end-of-life issues often touch the depths of our being, stir up our emotions, and raise profound questions.

Death is the end of our earthly pilgrimage.  Only God’s grace through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit enable us to respond to God’s gratuitous offer of salvation for our souls.

Jesus assures us that death marks the transformation to a new and eternal life.

From the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, in His final hours, does not deny the reality of death, along with its suffering and separation. Through Jesus, we know that though life, as we know it, will be changed, it has not ended…

This is what this night is all about. Stay awhile and contemplate.

Holy Thursday...The Gift of the Real Presence

Today, Holy Thursday, we commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus…similarly, we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

God's love for us is poured out in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, where Jesus Christ becomes truly present for us, giving us life and healing.

We remember Jesus, His life and love for each one of us in the celebration of the Eucharist.

We remember the presence of Jesus through the Eucharist…hidden in the consecrated bread and wine. We proclaim the death of Jesus Christ until He comes in glory.

“And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye.  This is my body.  And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it.  And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.” (Mark 14:22-24, Douay Rheims)

“The simplest way to express what Christ asks us to believe about the Real Presence is that the Eucharist is really He.  The Real Presence is the real Jesus. We are to believe that the Eucharist began in the womb of the Virgin Mary; that the flesh which the Son of God received from His Mother at the Incarnation is the same flesh into which He changed bread at the Last Supper; that the blood He received from His Mother is the same blood into which He changed wine at the Last Supper.  Had she not given Him His flesh and blood there could not be a Eucharist.

We are to believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ - simply, without qualification.  It is God become man in the fullness of His divine nature, in the fullness of His human nature, in the fullness of His body and soul, in the fullness of everything that makes Jesus JESUS.  He is in the Eucharist with His human mind and will united with the Divinity, with His hands and feet, His face and features, with His eyes and lips and ears and nostrils, with His affections and emotions and, with emphasis, with His living, pulsating, physical Sacred Heart.  That is what our Catholic Faith demands of us that we believe.  If we believe this, we are Catholic.  If we do not, we are not, no matter what people may think we are.” - Father John A. Hardon S.J.

“And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body.  And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this.  For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28, Douay Rheims)

The Roman Catholic Church has consistently held fast to the belief in the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique.  It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all sacraments tend.”  In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.’”(The Catechism of the Catholic Church: para 1374)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Via Dolorosa 14/14…Jesus Is Laid In the Sepulchre

In the advent of the Holy Triduum, we 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 pray that the reflection of this final holy step of Christ’s journey will embrace your heart.  Thank you for journeying with me and sharing my humble reflections throughout these fourteen Stations of the Cross this Lent.

“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


Scripture Reading:

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25, NAB)

“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.  And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.  They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.  Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.  So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.” (John 19:38-42, NAB)

“If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.  We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.  As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires.” (Romans 6:8-12, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Dear Jesus, the disciples and a few others now carried your most holy body, covered with a veil, to be buried in a stranger’s sepulchre.

“…Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” (Luke 9:58, NAB)

The journey to the tomb, away from Golgotha, was simply quiet and solemn.  The women bearing torches in their hands quietly led the way...passing the fields...shepherds and their flock...

All along the holy way, Mother Mary whispered psalms in a sweet but melancholy tone from the depths of her heart…contemplatively holding on to the pierced lifeless hands of her loving Son.  O, the anguish of a Mother in having to watch her Son die and now having to bury Him…to bid her Child a last farewell…

“How long, O Lord?  Wilt thou forget me for ever?  How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?  How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day?...” (Psalm 13:1-2, RSV)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…” (Psalm 23:4, 6, NAB)

“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and my body also…but I trust in thee, O Lord, I say, “Thou art my God.”…” (Psalm 31:9, 14, NAB)

“Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to possess the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.” (Psalm 37:34, NAB)

“Lord, all my longing is known to thee, my sighing is not hidden from thee.  My heart throbs, my strength fails me; and the light of my eyes - it also has gone from me…” (Psalm 38: 9-10, NAB)

“My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, “Where is your God?”” (Psalm 42:3, NAB)

“The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51: 17, NAB)

“Thy solemn processions are seen, O God, the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary…” (Psalm 68:24, NAB)

“How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord…for a day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God.” (Psalm 84:1, 10, NAB)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!...” (Psalm 103:1, NAB)

Arriving at the entrance of the tomb…they rolled the stone away and reverently laid the Precious Body of Jesus in the sepulchre.

Flowers and aromatic spices were scattered all around the tomb by the women.  The men, after praying, then waited outside to roll back the stone to seal the entrance of the tomb.

“After having once more given expression to their love by tears and fond embraces, they left the grotto.  Then the Blessed Virgin entered, seated herself close to the head of her dear Son, and bent over his Body with many tears…  Magdalen hastily and eagerly came forward, and flung on the Body some flowers…then she clasped her hands together, and with sobs kissed the feet of Jesus…” (p212, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Anne Catherine Emmerich)

The Blessed Virgin knew that she must now part with Her loving Child…losing Him…leaving Him there all alone in the cold darkness of the sepulchre…till the glorious hour…  Mary sadly “kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51, RSV)

“The Blessed Virgin”, writes St Fulgentius, “would ardently have desired to have buried her soul with the body of Christ.”  And this Mary herself revealed to St Bridget, saying: “I can truly say that at the burial of my Son one tomb contained as it were two hearts.”

With this, the entrance to the holy tomb...the sanctuary...the Holy of Holies...was finally sealed…Jesus Our Lord is no more...

Quiet Pondering:

Very simply and quietly, we contemplate one of the greatest 13th Century Latin hymn, Stabat Mater Dolorosa, attributed to Gregory I, Bernard of Clairvaux, Pope Innocent III, St. Bonaventura, Jacopone da Todi, Pope John XXII, and Pope Gregory XI, and others; translated from Latin into English by Edward Caswall (1814-1878).

This beautiful hymn, based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of Our Lord's mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, continues to be sung at the Stations of the Cross during Lenten services.

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass'd.

Oh, how sad and sore distress'd
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm'd in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother's pain untold?

Bruis'd, derided, curs'd, defil'd,
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay,
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defence,
Be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.


Stabat Mater dolorosa
Juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
Dum pendebat Filius.

Cujus animam gementem,
Contristatam et dolentem,
Pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
Fuit illa benedicta
Mater Unigeniti!

Quem maerebat, et dolebat,
Pia Mater, dum videbat
Nati paenas inclyti.

Quis est homo, qui non fleret,
Matrem Christi si videret
In tanto supplicio?

“Earlier at one of the retreat conferences the retreat master had said that there was a tradition that “no petition you asked at the fourteenth station is ever refused.”
- Thomas Merton

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Via Dolorosa 13/14…Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross and Placed In the Arms Of His Mother

This day of the Holy Week, we 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 pray that the reflection of these final holy steps of Christ’s journey will quietly touch your heart.

“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

Scripture Reading:

“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)

Simply Reflect:

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)

Quiet Pondering:

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...

In you, Yahweh, I take shelter;

never let me be disgraced.

In your righteousness rescue me, deliver me,

turn your ear to me and save me!

Be a sheltering rock for me,

a walled fortress to save me!

For you are my rock, my fortress.

My God, rescue me from the hands of the wicked,

from the clutches of rogue and tyrant!

For you alone are my hope, Lord,

Yahweh, I have trusted you since my youth,

I have relied on you since I was born,

you have been my portion from my mother’s womb,

and the constant theme of my praise.

To many I have seemed an enigma,

but you are my firm refuge.

My mouth is full of your praises,

filled with your splendor all day long.

Do not reject me now I am old,

nor desert me now my strength is failing,

for my enemies are uttering threats,

spies hatching their conspiracy.

“Hound him down now that God has deserted him,

seize him, there is no one to rescue him!”

God, do not stand aside,

my God, come quickly and help me!

Shame and ruin on those

who attack me;

may insult and disgrace cover those

whose aim is to hurt me!

I promise that, ever hopeful,

I will praise you more and more,

my lips shall proclaim your righteousness

and power to save , all day long.

I will come in the power of Yahweh

to commemorate your righteousness, yours alone.

God, you taught me when I was young,

And I am still proclaiming your marvels.

Now that I am old and gray,

God, do not desert me;

let me live to tell the rising generation

about your strength and power,

about your heavenly righteousness, God.

You have done great things;

who, God, is comparable to you?

You have sent me misery and hardship,

but you will give me life again,

you will pull me up again from the depths of the earth,

prolong my old age, and once more comfort me.

I promise I will thank you on the lyre,

my ever-faithful God,

I will play the harp in your honor,

Holy One of Israel.

My lips shall sing for joy as I play to you,

and this soul of mine which you have redeemed.

And all day long, my tongue

shall be talking of your righteousness.

Shame and disgrace on those

Whose aim is to hurt me!