Gospel – John 18: 1-19:42 THE PASSION OF THE LORD
So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’
Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him,
‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called 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.’
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘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 received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.
The Gospel of the Lord
In reflecting on the Passion, 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.
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.
They took Jesus to Calvary and crucified him there. It looked a brutal act, but what splendour 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.
• 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.