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The crucifixion and death of Jesus

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REFLECTION

Mark 15:22-39

 

[The soldiers] brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha—which is translated Place of the Skull. They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

(Here all kneel and pause for a short time.)

38The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 

Reflection

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. Palm or Passion Sunday commemorates our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, the place of his passion and death, but also of his resurrection. Jesus loves the city very much, but Jerusalem will put him to death.

As he enters the city on a donkey, the crowds greet and welcome him as a king. But this same crowd will taunt and despise him as he will hang on the cross. Today, as we, too, wave our palms to welcome Christ into our lives, hopefully we remember what his entrance to Jerusalem means for us: that he bravely faced the prospect of a violent death for love of us, for our sake.

Once Jesus enters Jerusalem, the power of darkness represented by the angry and jealous religious authorities begins to step up its resolve to incriminate and destroy him. And they manage to produce supposed witnesses that Jesus is out not only to undermine the Jewish religion and blaspheme God by making himself equal to God, but also to subvert the nation by challenging the imperial rule. Surprisingly, Jesus says nothing to defend himself. He is expected to muster an excellent self-defense in the same way that he wowed the crowd with his authoritative teachings as he went around Galilee and Judea. He appears, in Isaiah’s description, “like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Is 53:7).

Actually, it is not that he is completely helpless. After all, he proved himself innocent of the crimes of which he was accused. Pilate could really have saved him, he (Pilate) having the authority to do so, based on his findings of innocence. But, alas, we have a weakling, a crowd-pleaser, and an indecisive official in Pilate. Ironically, his symbolic washing of hands also sealed the fate of Jesus.

As we relive, then, the great and loving act of Jesus to enter Jerusalem and undergo his passion, let us remember also those who, like him, continue to suffer every day — from violence, hatred, discrimination, injustice, and dehumanization. And let us pray that may we be able to carry our “crosses” daily, following Jesus who gave his life out of his great, great love for us.

 

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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