the holy hour
Today is Good Friday of the Holy Triduum, which is the name traditionally given to the three holy days observed preceding Easter Sunday: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today the whole Church mourns the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a day of sadness, spent in fasting and prayer.
On this day and the following day, by a most ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Sacraments at all, except for Penance and the Anointing of the Sick. On the afternoon of this day, about three o’clock (unless a later hour is chosen for a pastoral reason), there takes place the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, corresponding to the time tradition and scriptural accounts point to Jesus’ death on the Cross.
In the King James bible translation of Matthew’s Gospel we read: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, KJV). These words are the first words of the twenty-second Psalm. To Roman soldiers gathered near, those words from the lips of a man they’ve been ordered by Pontius Pilate to put to death would likely sound as words of lamentation; the last cries of a grief-stricken and dying man. To the Jews witnessing the events of the day, these words would point to something more.
For more about this day, and a reflection on Jesus’ words from the Cross from the twenty-second Psalm, please enjoy below.
Peace be with you!
This psalm, prayed by the dying Jesus, reveals the two sides of the cross: in death lies the promise of life, in life the remembrance of death. In the Lord’s Death and Resurrection lies our redemption.”
Magnificat, April 2, 2021
Psalm 22:2-12, 15-25, 30b-32
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
You are far from my plea and the cry of my distress.
O my God, I call by day and you give no reply;
I call by night and I find no peace.
Yet you, O God, are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you set them free.
When they cried to you, they escaped.
In you they trusted and never in vain.
But I am a worm and no man,
the butt of men, laughing-stock of the people.
All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
“He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.”
Yes, it was you who took me from the womb,
entrusted me to my mother’s breast.
To you I was committed from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not leave me alone in my distress;
come close, there is none else to help.
Like water I am poured out,
disjointed are all my bones.
My heart has become like wax,
it is melted within my breast.
Parched as burnt clay is my throat,
my tongue cleaves to my jaws.
Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
and lay me in the dust of death.
I can count every one of my bones.
These people stare at me and gloat;
they divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!
Rescue my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of these dogs.
Save my life from the jaws of these lions,
my poor soul from the horns of these oxen.
I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
“You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.
For he has never despised
nor scorned the poverty of the poor.
From him he has not hidden his face,
but he heard the poor man when he cried.”
And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him.
They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn:
“These things the Lord has done.”
reflection on psalm 22
by Fr. Richard Veras
Jesus answered the first temptation with the gift of the Eucharist a few hours before his hour here in the garden [of Gethsamane]. He will answer the second temptation at the end of this agonizing hour, when they come to arrest him and he withstands the temptation to violence and the temptation to test the Father’s love. The third temptation will be answered tomorrow, not with words, but with the very gesture of love which is his Suffering and Death on the cross.
Jesus seems to give in to the tempter, when he cries, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me…but he is once again proclaiming his certainty in his Father. These words are the first words of Psalm 22. Jesus could not have recited this entire psalm from the cross. But the psalm ends by saying, The whole wide world will remember and return to God, all the families of nations bow down before him. For to God, ruler of nations, belongs kingly power. All who prosper on earth will bow down before him. All who go down to the dust will do reverence before him. And those who are dead, their descendants will serve him, will proclaim his name to generations still to come; and these will tell of his saving justice to a people yet unborn: he has fulfilled it (cf. Ps 22:28-31).
Jesus will not bow down and do homage to the devil. Jesus will bow before no one but the Father, because outside the Father there is not certainty but doubt, not mercy but measure, not reality but imaginings which lead to nothingness. Jesus’ certainty in the Father has generated us, the Church. We are those people yet unborn who tell of his saving justice. Whatever faith, hope, and love that we have is generated by Jesus’ certainty in the Father, made present to us by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Resurrection of Christ is made visible in the Christian people.
Ultimately, Jesus does not answer the devil’s temptations with words, but with his very Person. He was sent by the Father and he lives to reveal the Father to us.
The final culmination of these days is not Jesus’ sacrifice of his life on the cross. As always, Jesus’ gestures point us to the Father. These days culminate in the merciful, loving, and infinite initiative of the Father, who raises Jesus to life and, through his Son, gives us the possibility of a certainty that will always save us from doubt, a mercy that will always save us from sin, a destiny that has always been and will always be beyond what we could ever ask for or imagine.
Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
—Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
You have redeemed us, Lord God of Truth.
—I commend my spirit.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.
—Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
Excerpt from Adoration Vigil for Holy Thursday Night. Father Richard Veras is director of pastoral formation at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in New York. He is the author of three books, his latest being The Word Made Flesh: Foreshadowed, Fulfilled, Forever (Magnificat). Information herein posted under the "rules of fair use" to foster education and discussion in accordance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976.
Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.”
Saint Paul, Letter to the Philippians, cf. 2:6-11
Father, into your hands I comment my spirit.”
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family, pray for us. Amen.