Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: Our Lord's Sorrowful Passion

The Agony in the Garden

"Stay with me. Remain here with me. Watch and pray. Watch and pray."

"Oh Father, I know You can hear me. Is there any other way? Another prayer to pray? Father, if Your love permits, let this cup pass me by. Still let it be as You would have it, not as I." -Danielle Rose

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He has said, "My soul is sorrowful even to death." Mt 26:38 When reflecting on this portion of the Gospel and this first Sorrowful mysteries, I imagine Christ in such anguish because as He prays, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will" Mt 26: 39 that He is being shown the most horrifying sins committed past, present, and future, and knows what incredible suffering He must endure to bring about our salvation. It is because of His fervent love for us that God has limited Himself by entering human form. He feels loneliness, sorrow, distress, and pain just as we do. Seeing the torture He was about to undergo physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, He feels overwhelmed, yet even then He is completely obedient to His Father's will and plan for the salvation of the world.

I am always humbled and amazed by His willingness to undergo so much suffering for us. One morning while I was still in my freshmen or sophomore year of college, I had a very vivid dream. The minute details I wrote down in a prayer journal I haven't located, yet, but they aren't as important as the effect the dream had on me. I woke up feeling completely unworthy of God's love and at the same time acutely aware of His incredible mercy washing over me. At that moment I had an epiphany that I wasn't anywhere near strong enough in my faith that I would willingly agree to suffer physical pain in order to atone for the sins of others. As this realization came over me, I thought of the torture Christ said yes to for us, and I felt so humbled that I got down on the floor and laid flat on my stomach with my face touching the hardwood and praised God. This position was the only physical way I could express the way my soul was bowing down to God for such deep love and unparalleled sacrifice.

The Scourging at the Pillar

Christ is brutally whipped by men who are trained in torture. He knows He is innocent, yet He accepts each blow because of our sinfulness.

Crowning with Thorns

He is given a reed as a scepter and royal looking cloak to wear over His bleeding body. They force a crown of thorns upon His head, piercing His scalp as our iniquities pierce His mind and soul. He endures their mocking, spitting, and humiliation for our sakes.

Carrying of the Cross

After He has been brutally beaten, viciously mocked, then He is forced to carry the Cross He will be nailed to in between two criminals. He falls three times carrying such a heavy burden. He is stripped of His clothes.

The Crucifixion

"Crucify Him...every child torn from the womb...Crucify Him...every judgment I presume...Crucify Him...every prisoner on death row...Crucify Him...Will you cast the first stone?...Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord, have mercy on us." -Danielle Rose

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?"

It was actually the bones of Christ's wrists and ankles (not His hands and feet) that were pierced with nails to hold Him on the Cross. In the end, He became too weak to pull Himself up enough to take a breath, so He suffocated and died.

I invite you to reflect on all Christ suffered for your sins and mine, allow the sacrifice to sink in and become a growing awareness of what it means about God's mercy and unconditional love for each and every one of us. This posture of prayer and of the heart prepares us for the joy of Christ's Resurrection come Easter.

Note: This was originally written and appeared on my former blog April 10, 2009.

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