Twice during Holy Week the passion Gospels are read, the first reading on Passion Sunday and the second on Good Friday. The passion narratives are filled with a great deal of information that helps us to understand what we do at Mass each day.
The Salt Pot of Bible Life magazine divides the
persons in the passion narratives into three groups: the religious
leaders and their hypocrisy; the Roman politicians and their
indifference and avoidance of responsibility; and the crowd with their
selfish and fickle religiosity, first welcoming and then turning
completely against Jesus, and wanting his death.
There are also
persons in the passion narratives who showed great strength and helped
support Jesus in his trial. What distinguishes this group of
sympathizers from the other groups is that they were not the ones
considered by the establishment as the saner and stronger segment of
society. They did not follow the crowd, or do the diplomatic thing.
They were the women who gathered at the cross, those who wept for him,
the Roman centurion, the condemned man hanging on the cross next to
Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea--the Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin
that condemned him--and the other Pharisee Nicodemus who anointed his
body after his death, and Simon from the country who helped carry his
cross, though unwillingly.
who should have been at the cross were not, and those we would not
expect to be there were. That is a lesson that gives us much to
think about. The paradoxes in the life of Jesus that can teach us about life are easy to see on
Today, Good Friday, is the only day of the year
without a Mass. To allow us to meditate on the reality of what happened
on that day, without the usual support of a commemorating Mass,
is the reason we read the passion, meditate on its meaning and
venerate the cross. We have the Liturgy of the Word today and
participate in the communion rite from the Eucharist consecrated on Holy
In Korea as in most parts of the Catholic World, we
call the day Holy Friday, which does not need an explanation as does the
word 'good' in "Good Friday," the term normally used in the
English-speaking world. Paradoxes stand our strongly during this day's
liturgy. God in the person of Jesus became man, and yet lacked all that
the world of the East considers important for happiness.The Koreans have
the expression 'five blessings' which names what the tradition
considers necessary for earthly happiness; this was also true of the
Israelites of the Old Testament. Jesus didn't possess even one of these
blessings. This is a good lesson for us to bring to mind when we see
what society presents to us as the great values of life.