Scripture: Lectionary # 41. Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Psalm 31:(Lk.23:46).
2.6.12-13.15-16.17.25. Philippians 2:8-9. Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9. and the
Passion Narrative of John the Evangelist 18:1-19:42
This is the most solemn day of the year for Christians, the day on which
Christ died. We are led to reflect and deepen our faith on this salvific
event through the reading of Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song and the other
Scriptures that speak of Jesus “kenosis” (emptying out of self totally) and
his obedience to God’s will. The Passion Narrative of the Fourth Gospel is
well chosen for this day. It is a profound reflection on the last events in
the historical life of Jesus. The reflection should lead us into a
contemplative prayer centering on Jesus as he dies.
For Marianists there is a Three O’Clock Prayer that is to be said while
kneeling on this day. Blessed Chaminade wrote about this prayer and
requested the Marianists kneel while praying it. Though it may be familiar
to many Marianists, here is the prayer for those who never have seen or
heard of it:
Lord Jesus, we gather at the foot of the Cross with Mary your Mother
and the disciple whom you loved.
We ask your pardon for our sins which are the cause of your death.
We thank you for having thought of us in
that solemn moment and for having given us to your mother. Holy
Virgin, take us under your protection and open us to the action
of the Holy Spirit. St. John, obtain for us the grace of taking Mary into
our lives and of assisting her in her mission. May the Father, and the
Son, and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the
Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.
In that scene at the foot of the Cross we see Roman soldiers, Jewish
leaders, the onlooking ordinary people who knew the “every day Jesus”, and
the holy women. Two others are standing near the Cross next to each other:
the Beloved Disciple (traditionally known as John the Apostle) and Mary of
Nazareth, the Mother of Jesus. Only the holy women and the disciple and
Mary are named. The other persons are not. The intimate circle of those
named witness the blood and water flowing from the pierced side of Jesus as
he dies. This not only has historical meaning in the salvation of all but
also in the continuation of what it taking place through the great
sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. The Church is born as Jesus
ascends in spirit to the bosom of the Father. The Prologue is being
completed with this scene. Jesus sees that all has been accomplished and
the Evangelist states, “Consummatum est”, it is finished.
Jesus places his own mortality right before our eyes. We realize he has
undergone everything we go through in some ways: rejection, abondonment,
isolation, accompanied by sickness, pain, struggles of mind and heart, and
everything that points to our mortality. We can only imagine how much more
intensely Jesus felt all these human experiences. We are called to unite
with him in understanding this and never give up in our hope to overcome
the powers of darkness, sin, and death. We await with patience for another
We realize how close Mary is to her son in all of this. She offers us a way
of understanding human suffering and death. Her standing at the foot of the
Cross shows us her deep love for her beloved Son and her Redeemer.
Commentaries are not necessary as we contemplate this scene and the death
of the Messiah, her son Jesus. Her eyes should be mirrored in our hearts
and our souls. We are not alone! Amen.