“Jesus was arraigned before the procurator, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him: ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus responded, ‘As you say.’ Yet when he was accused by the chief priests and elders he had made no reply. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Surely you hear how many charges they bring against you?’ He did not answer him on a single count, much to the procurator’s surprise.
Now on the occasion of a festival a procurator was accustomed to release one prisoner, whom the crowd would designate. They had at the time a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. Since they were already assembled, Pilate said to them, ‘Which one do you wish me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus the so-called Messiah?’ He knew, of course, that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.
While he was still presiding on the bench, his wife sent him a message: ‘Do not interfere in the case of that holy man. I had a dream about him today which has greatly upset me.’
Meanwhile, the chief priests and elders convinced the crowds that they should ask for Barabbas and have Jesus put to death. So when the procurator asked them, ‘Which one do you wish me to release for you’ they said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Then what am I to do with Jesus, the so-called Messiah?’ ‘Crucify him!’ they all cried. He said, ‘Why, what crime has he committed?’ But they only shouted the louder, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate finally realized that he was making no impression and that a riot was breaking out instead. He called for water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring as he did so, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man. The responsibility is yours.’ The whole people said in reply, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children.’ At that, he released Barabbas to them. Jesus, however, he first had scourged; then he handed him over to be crucified.
The procurator’s soldiers took Jesus inside the praetorium and collected the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and wrapped him in a scarlet military cloak. Weaving a crown out of thorns they fixed it on his head, and stuck a reed in his right hand. Then they began to mock him by dropping to their knees before him, saying, ‘All hail, king of the Jews!’ They also spat at him. Afterward they took hold of the reed and kept striking him on the head. Finally, when they had finished making a fool of him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucifixion.
On their way out they met a Cyrenian named Simon. This man they pressed into service to carry the cross. Upon arriving at a site called Golgotha, they gave him a drink of wine flavored with gall, which he tasted but refused to drink.
When they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among them by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Above his head they had put the charge against him in writing: ‘This is Jesus, King of the Jews.’ Two insurgents were crucified along with him, one at his right and one at his left. People going by kept insulting him, tossing their heads and saying: ‘So you are the one who was going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days! Save yourself, why don’t you? Come down off that cross if you are God’s Son!’ The chief priests, the scribes and the elders also joined in the jeering: ‘He saved others but he cannot save himself! So he’s the king of Israel! Let’s see him come down from that cross, and then we will believe. He relied on God’; let God rescue him now if he wants to. After all, he claimed, ‘I am God’s Son.’ The insurgents who had been crucified with him kept taunting him in the same way.
From noon onward, there was darkness over the whole land until midafternoon. Then toward midafternoon Jesus cried out in a loud tone, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,’ that is ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ This made some of the bystanders who heard it remark, ‘He is invoking Elijah!’ Immediately one of them ran off and got a sponge. He soaked it in cheap wine, and sticking it on a reed, tried to make him drink. Meanwhile the rest said, ‘Leave him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah comes to his rescue.’ Once again Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and then gave up his spirit.
Suddenly the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, boulders split, tombs opened. Many bodies of saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After Jesus’ resurrection they came forth from their tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and his men who were keeping watch over Jesus were terror-stricken at seeing the earthquake and all that was happening, and said, ‘Clearly this was the Son of God!’”
How do you feel as you read this passage?
Let it set the tone of this Holy Week.
Pay close attention to all that Jesus went through for love of you.
Heritage word—“Without love, the Cross is too heavy and without the Cross, love may deceive.”
(Mother Mary Anna, 1st Superior General of the Sisters of Notre Dame)