O what wonders took place, long ago and far away, on a lonely hill called
The world in darkness
The sun blotted out
The earth trembling
A civilization in turmoil
A blasphemer crucified on a rugged cross forgiving the sins of His executioners
A pagan centurion witnessing that he has indeed beheld the Son of God
O what a heart-wrenching scene – this death on a Friday afternoon!
The crucified man’s closest friends scurry and scatter, filled with fear
His scourged, torn, pierced and bloody body suspended from the gibbet of the cross
His mother pierced with swords of sorrow beyond all human telling
He is misunderstood by the judge, mocked by the soldiers, betrayed by His friends
His few possessions become the prize in a game of dice as they watch Him bleed
O what staggering realities take place, for this is no mere criminal!
God Himself is delivered into the hands of lawless men
The Creator of all is made subject to His creatures
The Son of God is shackled and beaten and ridiculed
The Messiah is scourged and His flesh torn off with each painful whipping
The Redeemer is pierced with nails and a lance
The Anointed One, dripping with blood, parched with thirst, and gasping for breath
comes to a pathetic and agonizing end on the death-bed of the Cross
This ignominous death is not merely a punishment
forced upon a rabble-rousing blasphemer
even if it should seem so to the Jews and the Romans.
No, in this story the real power is not found in Caiaphas or Herod or Pilate
but in God, His Christ, and His Christ's infinite love and self-offering.
This is the story of a torture accepted without complaint
a cross embraced and kissed
a sacrifice offered willingly for sinners by an innocent lamb
and for the unjust by the Just One Himself
Jesus Christ today offers Himself totally and without reservation
taking upon Himself the sin, the sorrow, and the guilt of us all
suffering cruel punishment in our place
and freeing us from slavery to sin by His saving death.
This is God’s greatest and most powerful act of love.
This is the eternal sacrifice of
and inaugurates the new one.
This is no longer the continual and ineffective temple sacrifices of bulls and goats
but the one true and perfect sacrifice
in which Jesus offers Himself and sheds His own blood.
He who is at once both priest and victim offers for our deliverance
the oblation of His own body.
By His humility and obedience He is made perfect
and greatly exalted by God our Father
and becomes the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.
And yet look how we forget Him, walk away from Him, take His name in vain,
neglect to serve Him in our brothers and sisters,
increase the weight of His Cross
as we heap upon Him the multitude of our sins.
Look how we are consumed by our self-worship, scourging Christ in one another,
failing to offer ourselves in love to even our families,
let alone those less fortunate in the shadows of our community.
Look how we increase His sufferings
as we betray, ridicule and shackle one another with our selfishness
crush spirits with our indifference
and pierce hearts with our cruel words.
And yet, how Christ loves us so perfectly and completely
that as He climbs the road to
He calls to mind everyone that He redeems,
each and every one of us who are struggling to love
and willingly endures His Passion with His beloved before His face.
He thought of you. He wept for love of you. He died for you…and for me.
This is love! This love is more powerful than any human sin!
From the pierced side of Christ flowed blood and water,
the fountain of sacramental grace which gives life to the Church.
From the well-spring of the sacraments we drink deeply of that saving tide
and through it experience the fruits of Christ's sacrifice on
Today there is no Eucharistic Prayer
for we mourn His death and await His resurrection.
In obedience to Christ, we shall return to the Altar at Easter…
and innumerable times hence…to offer the sacrifice of the Mass
in which the power of Christ's love comes alive in our midst
and in which we are united to His saving death on the Cross.
It is Christ who is active in the Eucharistic Liturgy, making Himself truly present to us.
If we sing “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
we can answer: “At Mass, I am there!”
We approach the Altar to offer bread and wine which become the living Christ
and also to offer ourselves in a living sacrifice of praise.
as we offer ourselves…our body and blood…in all that we do for others.
One who labors for the good of others sacrifices in love for their sake.
A mother who bathes, changes diapers, and mends the pierced hearts of her children
wipes the sweaty and bloody face of Jesus.
All who suffer injustice and heartache are united with the unjust suffering of Christ.
Those who work to cleanse the wounds of the abused
and meets the needs of the outcast and starving
anoint the body of Jesus with the precious ointment of charity.
This is the “passion” of the Mystical Body of Christ – the Church –
the daily self-offering of our bodies and blood in love for others
and the offering of our whole selves in the Church’s prayer of the
In this we are one with Christ in His redeeming work.
Through these sacred realities grace overflows in abundance,
lives are transformed,
God’s presence is made known
and the incomparable mysteries contained in the horrific scene of
come alive and are made real for the salvation of the world.
O Lord Jesus crucified, Have mercy on us!