Gospel Reflection – Friday, March 29, 2024 – John 18:1-19:42 – Catholic Bible

First Reading (Is 52,– 53,12)

Reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah:

Behold, my Servant will be successful; His ascension will be to the highest degree. Just as many were amazed to see him – he was so disfigured that he did not appear to be a man or have a human appearance -, in the same way he will spread his fame among the people. Before him the kings will remain silent, seeing something that has never been told to them and knowing things they have never heard.

“Who of us believed what we heard? And to whom was it given to recognize the strength of the Lord? Before the Lord he grew like a plant or like a root in dry ground. He had no beauty or attractiveness for us to look at, he had no appearance that please us.

He was despised as the last of mortals, a man covered in pain, full of suffering; passing by him, we covered our faces; so despicable was he, we paid no attention to him.
The truth is that he took upon himself our illnesses and suffered our pains himself; and we thought he was a wounded man, struck by God and humiliated!

But he was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our crimes; the punishment imposed on him was the price of our peace, and his wounds, the price of our healing.
We all wandered like lost sheep, each going his own way; and the Lord laid upon him the sin of us all.

He was mistreated, and he submitted, he did not open his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter, or like a sheep before its shearers, he did not open his mouth.

He was tormented by anguish and was condemned. Who would care about his origin story? He was eliminated from the world of the living; and because of the sin of my people he was struck until he died.

They gave him a burial among the wicked, a tomb among the rich, because he did no evil, nor was falsehood found in his words. The Lord wanted to macerate him with suffering. By offering his life in atonement, he will have lasting descendants, and will successfully carry out the Lord’s will.

Through this life of suffering, he will attain light and perfect science. My Servant, the righteous, will make countless men righteous, carrying their guilt upon themselves.

Therefore, I will share multitudes with him and he will share his riches with his valiant followers, for he gave his body to death, being counted as an evildoer; he, in fact, redeemed everyone’s sin and interceded on behalf of sinners.

– Word of the Lord.

– Thank God.

Second Reading (Hb 4,14-16; 5,7-9)

Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Brethren: We have an eminent high priest who has entered heaven, Jesus, the Son of God. Therefore, let us remain firm in the faith we profess.

Indeed, we have a high priest capable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, for he himself was tested in every way like us, with the exception of sin. Let us then, with all confidence, approach the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and obtain the grace of help at the right time.

Christ, in the days of his earthly life, addressed prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death. And he was answered, because of his surrender to God. Even though he was a Son, he learned what obedience to God means from what he suffered. But, at the end of his life, he became the cause of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

– Word of the Lord.

– Thank God.

Announcement of the Passion of Christ (John 18,1-19,42)

Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John.

At that time, Jesus went out with his disciples to the other side of the Kidron torrent. There was a garden there, where he entered with his disciples. Judas, the traitor, also knew the place, because Jesus used to meet there with his disciples. Judas took with him a detachment of soldiers and some guards from the high priests and Pharisees, and arrived there with lanterns, torches and weapons. Then Jesus, aware of everything that was going to happen, went out to meet them and said: — Whom are you looking for?

They replied: — To Jesus the Nazarene.

He said: — It’s me.

Judas, the traitor, was with them. When Jesus said: It is I, they retreated and fell to the ground. Again he asked them: — Who are you looking for?

They answered: — To Jesus the Nazarene.

Jesus replied: — I already told you that it is I. If it is me you are looking for, then let these go away.

This is how the word Jesus had said came true: — I have not lost any of those you entrusted to me.

Simon Peter, who had a sword with him, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then Jesus said to Peter: — Keep your sword in its sheath. Am I not going to drink the cup that the Father gave me?

Then the soldiers, the commander and the guards of the Jews arrested Jesus and tied him up. They led him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the High Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who gave the Jews the advice: — It is preferable that one person dies for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. This disciple was known to the High Priest and entered the High Priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Pedro stayed outside, near the door. Then the other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out, talked to the woman in charge of the door, and took Peter inside. The maid who guarded the door said to Peter: — Don’t you also belong to this man’s disciples?

He replied: — No!

The servants and guards made a fire and were warming themselves, as it was cold. Pedro stayed with them, keeping warm. However, the High Priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him: — I spoke clearly to the world. I always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple, where all the Jews meet. I didn’t say anything in secret. Why do you question me? Ask those who heard what I said; they know what I said.

When Jesus said this, one of the guards who was there slapped him, saying: — Is this how you respond to the High Priest? Jesus answered him: — If I answered wrongly, show me why; but if I spoke correctly, why did you hit me?

Then Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas, the High Priest. Simão Pedro was still there, standing, warming himself. They said to him: Are you not also one of his disciples? Pedro denied: — No!

Then one of the High Priest’s servants, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”

Again Pedro denied it. And at the same time, the rooster crowed. From Caiaphas, they took Jesus to the governor’s palace. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the palace, so as not to become unclean and to be able to eat the Passover. Then Pilate went out to meet them and said: – What accusation do you bring against this man?

They replied: — If he hadn’t been a criminal, we wouldn’t have handed him over to you!

Pilate said: — Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law. The Jews answered him: — We cannot condemn anyone to death.

Thus what Jesus had said was fulfilled, meaning what death he would die. Then Pilate entered the palace again, called Jesus and asked him: — Are you the king of the Jews? Jesus replied: – Are you saying this for yourself or have others told you this about me?

Pilate said: Am I a Jew by any chance? Your people and the high priests handed you over to me. What have you done?

Jesus replied: — My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my guards would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from here.

Pilate said to Jesus: Are you then a king? Jesus replied: — You say: I am king. I was born and came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

Pilate said to Jesus: What is truth? When Pilate had said this, he went out to meet the Jews, and said to them: I find no fault in him. But there is a custom among you, that at Easter I release to you a prisoner. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews to you? Then they began to shout again: — Not this one, but Barabbas!

Barabbas was a bandit. Then Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and placed it on Jesus’ head. They dressed him in a red cloak, approached him and said: — Long live the king of the Jews!

And they slapped him. Pilate went out again and said to the Jews: Look, I bring him out here before you, so that you may know that I find no crime in him. Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the red robe. Pilate said to them: Behold the man! When they saw Jesus, the high priests and guards began to shout: — Crucify him! Crucify him!

Pilate replied: Take him yourselves to crucify him, for I find no crime in him. The Jews replied: We have a Law, and according to this Law he must die, because he made himself the Son of God.

Upon hearing these words, Pilate became even more afraid. He entered the palace again and asked Jesus: Where are you from? Jesus was silent. Then Pilate said: Do you not answer me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to release you and the authority to crucify you? Jesus replied: — You would have no authority over me if it had not been given to you from above. Therefore, whoever handed me over to you is more to blame.

Because of this, Pilate sought to release Jesus. But the Jews shouted: — If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself king declares himself against Caesar.

Hearing these words, Pilate took Jesus outside and sat down on the court, in the place called Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbath. It was the day of Easter preparation, around noon. Pilate said to the Jews: Behold your king! But they shouted: — Out! Outside! Crucify him!

Pilate said: Shall I crucify your king? The high priests replied: — We have no other king than Caesar.

So Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified, and they took him away. Jesus took the cross upon himself and went out to the place called Calvary, in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, with two others: one on each side, and Jesus in the middle. Pilate also ordered a sign to be written and placed on the cross; on it was written: — Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

Many Jews were able to see the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was close to the city. The sign was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Then the high priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather what he said: ‘I am the King of the Jews.’ Pilate replied: — What I wrote is written.

After crucifying Jesus, the soldiers divided his clothes into four parts, one part for each soldier. As for the tunic, it was woven seamlessly, in a single piece from top to bottom. Then they said among themselves: We will not divide the coat. Let’s draw lots to see who it will be. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled which says: — They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my tunic.

So the soldiers did. Near Jesus’ cross stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus, upon seeing his mother and, beside her, the disciple he loved, said to his mother: — Woman, this is your son.

Then he said to the disciple: — This is your mother.

From that time on, the disciple welcomed her with him. After this, Jesus, knowing that everything was finished, and that the Scripture would be fulfilled to the end, said: — I thirst.

There was a jug full of vinegar there. They tied a sponge soaked in vinegar to a stick and brought it to Jesus’ mouth. He took the vinegar and said: — Everything is finished.

And, bowing his head, he gave up the spirit.

It was the day of preparation for Easter. The Jews wanted to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross during the Sabbath, because that Sabbath was a solemn feast day. Then they asked Pilate to have the legs of those crucified broken and to take them off the cross. The soldiers went and broke the legs of one and then another who were crucified with Jesus. When they approached Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs; but a soldier opened his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. He who saw it bears witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he speaks the truth, so that you also may believe. This happened to fulfill the Scripture, which says: – They will not break any of his bones.

And another Scripture says: — They will look at the one they pierced.

After that, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus — but in secret, for fear of the Jews — asked Pilate to take away Jesus’ body. Pilate consented. Then Joseph came to take away Jesus’ body. Nicodemus also arrived, the same man who had previously come to Jesus at night. He brought about thirty kilos of perfume made from myrrh and aloe. Then they took the body of Jesus and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths, as the Jews usually bury them.

In the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden and, in the garden, a new tomb, where no one had yet been buried. Because of the preparation of Easter, and as the tomb was close, that was where they placed Jesus.

— Word of Salvation.

— Glory to you, Lord.

Reflecting the Word of God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, I have gathered here with you to share a message that is as old as time and yet so relevant to our daily lives. Our lives are full of challenges, adversities and moments of pain and suffering. We all face struggles and difficulties that sometimes seem overwhelming. But it is in these everyday experiences that we find the true beauty and meaning of the biblical passages presented to us.

Imagine yourself now, for a moment, in the streets of Jerusalem, more than two thousand years ago. The atmosphere is tense, the people are agitated and Roman soldiers are present in large numbers. Jesus, the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, stands before us, carrying a heavy cross. He is led through the city’s tortuous paths, surrounded by an angry mob. His face is marked by pain and suffering, but also by a peace and serenity that transcend any human understanding.

At this moment, we are invited to contemplate the mystery of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, we find a vivid description of the Suffering Servant, the one who bears our pains and suffers for our transgressions. He is despised, rejected, and wounded for our iniquities. His wounds become the source of our healing, and through his sacrifice, we are reconciled to God. Through his humiliation, we find exaltation and liberation.

This message of redemption and hope is reinforced in the letter to the Hebrews. The author reminds us that we do not have a high priest who is incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses. On the contrary, in Jesus, we have a High Priest who knows our pains and temptations, because he himself experienced them. He approached us, assuming our humanity, to offer us the mercy and grace we so desperately need. We can therefore approach Him with confidence, knowing that we will find help and compassion.

And now, we turn our gaze to the account of the Passion of Christ in the Gospel of John. We follow Jesus in his agony in the Garden of Olives, his unjust arrest, his trial before Pilate and, finally, his crucifixion. We see the pain and humiliation he endured out of love for us. But at the same time, we are witnesses to his compassion and forgiveness, even when he is betrayed and abandoned by those he loved.

My brothers and sisters, these biblical passages invite us to a deep reflection on God’s love and mercy manifested in Jesus Christ. They remind us that even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, there is hope and redemption. We are not alone in our struggles. Jesus is at our side, sharing our burdens and showing us the way to salvation.

Our hearts are called to open to the message of the cross, to the sacrifice of Jesus that gives us new life. Just as Christ’s wounds became a source of healing for us, we are also invited to embrace our own crosses and find in them the opportunity for spiritual growth and transformation. When we join in the suffering of Christ, we also join in his victory over sin and death.

How can we apply these spiritual truths to our daily lives? How can we transform pain and suffering into opportunities for growth and grace? Allow me to share a story with you.

There was a woman named Maria who was facing a debilitating illness. She was confined to a wheelchair and depended on others to carry out the simplest daily tasks. Mary could have given in to despair and bitterness, but she chose to embrace her cross with faith and hope.

She found comfort in the words of Isaiah, which describe the Suffering Servant. Mary recognized that her own pain and suffering could be offered to God as a sacrifice of love. She learned to find the presence of Jesus in her brokenness and to trust that he was working through her suffering for the greater good.

Mary also approached Jesus as the compassionate High Priest. She took her worries, fears, and anguish to him in prayer, knowing he understood and cared. She experienced the peace that comes from placing everything in God’s hands and trusting in his providence.

Over the years, Maria has become a source of inspiration for everyone around her. Their unshakable faith and contagious joy were living testimonies of the transforming power of God’s love. She used her own experience of suffering to help others find strength and hope in their own difficulties.

My dear ones, Mary’s story reminds us that no matter how heavy our cross is, God is always by our side, ready to sustain and strengthen us. He invites us to trust Him and give our worries and pains to Him. He invites us to find meaning in our suffering, knowing that he can use it to shape and transform us into the image of his Son.

As we approach Holy Week and prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, we are challenged to embrace the message of the cross in our lives. We are called to find hope in the midst of despair, love in the midst of hate, and forgiveness in the midst of pain. We are called to follow Christ’s example, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have offended us, and to seek reconciliation in our relationships.

May each of us find the courage and strength to embrace our daily crosses. May we approach Jesus, our compassionate High Priest, with confidence and humility. And that in doing so, we can experience the true freedom and peace that can only be found in total surrender to God.

My dear brothers and sisters, may the words of Scripture resonate in our hearts and inspire us to live according to God’s will. May we be transformed by the love and grace of Christ, so that we can be living witnesses of his mercy in the world.

With confidence and hope, let us pray:

Loving Father, thank you for loving us unconditionally and offering us the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Help us to embrace our daily crosses and trust in your providence at all times. Give us the courage to forgive and love as Jesus loved. Enable us to live according to your will and be living witnesses of your grace and mercy. We ask this of you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

May God bless you and guide you on your journey of faith. Amen.