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Good Friday, from the Dungeon to Calvary
ISRAEL | NEWS | NEWS
A priest’s reflections on the Sacred Triduum, written from Jerusalem

Calvary
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.

Good Friday 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 you up.

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 only Son”!

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 forgiveness.

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.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-03-31


 
 


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