Feast Day Reflection by Sister Josephine Threlfall, SNDdeN
Our Lenten journey this year has been like no other in our life time. None of us would have thought that we would reach Good Friday with all our Churches closed and without Holy Week Services and most of us being confined to our homes. It has been a journey of suffering, pain, deprivation of liberty and connection with family and friends dear to us. Perhaps it has helped us to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Passion of Jesus Christ. We are probably more aware today of the value of human life, love, care and respect for all that God created.
Let us now enter the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus and his disciples. The peaceful quiet place where Jesus, with some of his disciples had gone to pray was soon interrupted. They were approached by guards sent by the Chief Priests and Pharisees. In this tense situation Jesus asks who they are looking for. This was a great moment of courage and concern on Jesus’ part, not just for himself but for the other disciples. He speaks openly and honestly to his accusers, even under great mental and physical pressure. He even tells these guards to let the other disciples go free. How would we react in such a situation? Let us pray for courage to overcome our selfish, protective instincts. Peter then shows a strong desire to defend Jesus when he strikes out and cuts off the ear of Malchus, the slave. Jesus rebukes Peter for this action not wanting to aggravate the situation.
The guards then arrest Jesus and take him into the court of the high priest, where Jesus speaks openly about the way he has proclaimed his mission from His Father. He says he has proclaimed the true message of God in synagogues and temples. Very soon after this Peter is approached by the maid at the entrance to the house of Caiaphas. They entered the court-house together and she asked “Are you not also one of this man’s disciples?” “I am not” said Peter who was by now standing close to Jesus. This denial must have caused Jesus great sadness coming from his close friend. At the same time Peter would have felt great shame at his cowardly response.
At this point Annas, sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas the High Priest. Peter stood warming himself outside and was joined by other court officials who questioned him twice about being a companion of Jesus, which he denied on both occasions. After the second questioning by one who had seen him in the garden with Jesus, the cock crowed. What a devastating moment for Peter when he realized how he had betrayed Jesus again. Maybe we can think of times that we have let others down through our human weakness and cowardly words.
What follows is further interrogation by Caiaphas and by Pilate because neither of them would take responsibility, nor could give any reason for condemning Jesus. The Jews did call Jesus an “evildoer” but Pilate could still not find any reason to condemn Him. So, he sent him back to Caiaphas after having him scourged and crowned with thorns as the crowd shouted “Hail king of the Jews.” Eventually Pilate gave the crowd the choice of having either Jesus or Barabbas a robber released, the other would be crucified. They chose Barabbas and Jesus was handed over to the Jews, who shouted “Crucify him.” Pilate said to the Jews that they could take him away and take full responsibility for his crucifixion but he could still not find any reason to condemn him. Let us pause to consider how we would have felt in this scene, let us recognize our weakness failings in contrast to the compassion and love of God.
The soldiers then took Jesus and led him out of the city up to Golgotha on a traumatic journey. Only a few people tried to comfort him on the way including his Mother and several other women and also Simon of Cyrene. Maybe we can try to experience that journey with Jesus and consider would we have risked joining these people?
When they reached the summit of Golgotha Jesus was crucified between two other criminals one on either side of him. Pilate wrote out a notice saying “Jesus of Nazareth king on the Jews” which was inserted above the cross. We know that Mary his Mother and the other companions including Jesus’ beloved disciple remained there for some time.
Let us stand at the foot of the cross with the faithful followers of Jesus praying for our broken world today………..We could remember the words of Pope Francis — “How beautiful it will be when we all, at the end of our lives, with our errors and our faults, as well as our good deeds and our love of neighbour, can say to the Father as Jesus did: “’It is finished.’”
Let us bring to Christ’s Cross
Our joys, our sufferings and our failures.
There we will find a Heart
That is open to us and understands us,
Forgives us, loves us
And calls us to bear this love in our lives,
To love each person, each brother and sister,
With the same love.
— Pope Francis 2016 Good Friday
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”
The Gospel of the Lord