|The altar marking the spot of Calvary, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.|
The following reflection on the events of Good Friday was
written by Fr Eamon Kelly, LC, Vice Chargé of the
Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
is a long day for you, Jesus … our long
liturgy is really short compared to it. So I am
thankful, Lord, for this time of meditation to enter more
deeply into the depth of your passion. I take Mary’s
hand, since she is so close to you and connects
more deeply with you.
You probably did not wake up on
Friday morning because you hardly went to sleep in that
dungeon. The dungeon ruin we see at Peter in Gallicantu
gives us an idea of what your surroundings were that
night. Especially when we look at the torture chamber and
the pit where pilgrims pray Psalm 88 and we turn
off the light to recall ‘the night’ of your sorrow,
abandoned, abused, ridiculed and condemned by the very leaders of
the special people chosen and prepared to receive you. Who
knows what you were subjected to as the guards hauled
you out in the early hours of the morning. But
we know the mercy and forgiveness in your heart toward
each of these men made in the image of your
Father. You pray that they would also react like Peter.
One repentant sinner lightens your load so much and lifts
At the traditional place of the Lithostrotos, Roman soldier
graffiti or etchings of crucifixion games right there on the
pavement flagstones remind us of the harsh brutality of the
dominant occupation forces. Barabbas is competing with you. Like in
the name Simon Barjona, Bar means son and Abba’s meaning
is clear! The son of the father, Barabbas, competing with
the only Son of the Father! Who will go free?
The Stations begin as the 600 yard long path gradually
climbs up to Calvary. The rock pinnacle of Calvary looks
down on the Temple, which traditional Jewish piety associates with
Mount Moriah, where a voice was heard: “Do not touch
the boy! … I will provide the sacrifice.” That moment
is fulfilled now, when the Father “did not spare his
Calvary is a poor-quality rock remnant in an
old quarry which is no longer used. It is “rejected
stone” (yet is there a more valuable piece of rock
in the world?). However, because of its elevation, it is
ideal for showcasing the cruel crucifixion-fate of rebels, a Roman
strategy for maintaining suppressed peoples under their powerful military boot.
Today we can meditate at Calvary on the seriousness of
sin, the destructive violence it constitutes and causes, the response
of our loving God who assumes in himself the fullness
of these effects and redeems us so deeply that we
can walk with him in his footsteps, overcoming all evil
assaults with patience, forgiveness, reconciliation and rebuilding of relationships. But
let’s enter his peace also!
What peace reigns in his heart
when he says, “Father forgive them, they do not know
what they are doing!” Is it possible to forgive someone
while anger still rages inside us? What peace forgiveness requires
and then expresses! What interior dominion and strength do we
need to stop anger and revenge taking over our emotions,
when we are hurt and deeply let down, especially by
those we most admired and trusted, even one chosen as
spouse! The full extent of the injury received by Christ
directly meets the divine strength of love capable of total
Mary is the first one sharing in this strength.
We cannot imagine her there on Calvary seething in anger
against the soldiers, no matter how intensely she experiences their
horrible injustice and violence against her son. Christ’s Redemption is
already flowering right there on Good Friday in Mary’s heart.
She is not uttering harsh judgment on the religious leaders
who have failed deeply. The only words we have from
her suggested she was struggling to utter yet another “Let
it be done …” “They have no wine (of love)
… Help them!”
To be continued tomorrow with a reflection
on Holy Saturday.