MEDITATION ON THE PASSION
FROM ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL
CHRIST WASHING THE DISCIPLES' FEET - JOHN 13.1– 20.
Giovanni Agnostino da Lodi’s painting of the Washing in the Accademia, Venice. Here we find Our Lord approaching to wash Peter’s feet. Peter looks incredulous, “Lord, are YOU going to wash me feet?”
After Jesus washed their feet that night, Near the table where they shared A meal, at which
He had broken bread,
Saying ‘This is my body.
The cup of wine too He had blessed,
saying He would not drink until
the coming of the kingdom.
A strange stillness lingered in the room
Something important was in the air,
more significant than washing dusty feet.
Pregnant with expectation Jesus announced:
‘Do you know what I have done?
I, your Master have washed your feet.
This is my example unto you.
Blessed are the ones who do this.’ M.D.
Almighty God, Your Son Jesus Christ has shown us what service is all about, teach us that what we do for the least of our brethren we do also for You. Give us the grace to be the servant of others as You were, even when You died on the cross for us. Amen.
PETER’S DENIAL - JOHN 18. 16-18, 25-27
This painting is by Jan Miense Molenaer of the 17thC. Now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest..
During the Last Supper Peter had very vehemently told his Master that he would never desert him.
Here he is just as vehemently denying he knew Christ, or that he was His disciple or that he was a Galilean.
You came in from the chilly night
At the house of Annas,
With others you hovered
Over the fire.
More interested in warmth
And not being recognized.
While your Master faced
Abuse and insults in dignity.
You denied Him,
Not once but thrice.
Only when the cock crowed
Were you brought to yourself.
What made you Peter
deny your Lord?
Was it cowardice?
Or was it fear of death?
Yet you had told Jesus
you would die for Him,
Yes, die for Him.
only a few hours before.
So forcefully that was
It is a rude shock
To discover your treachery
And your desertion. M.D.
Without Your grace, we are very fragile dear Lord, and we can so easily deny you as Peter did. Give us your strength to be bold in proclaiming that you are the Lord of the cosmos who died to restore all to its former glory. Amen.
PART OF THE TRIAL SCENE
This is by Fra. Angelico, a Dominican of the fifteenth century. It is one of many paintings he did for the Dominican St. Marco monastery in Florence.
Pilate handed Jesus over to the soldiers to their usual brand of brutality, hoping this would satisfy the demands of the Jews. Part of their violence was to mock Jesus, and so He was blindfolded after having a crown of thorns placed on his head, a sceptre put into his hand and robed in a purple gown.
The Jews sought Your death, O Lord.
They did not want to know who You are.
Judas gave them that chance
in the garden of Gethesemane.
The chief priests and soldiers took you
to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
“What is the charge?” he asked.
“Blasphemy.” He has made himself a king.
A king! So you are a king.
You Lord told Pilate
My kingdom is not of this world;
my kingship is over souls.
Yet my authority with my Father is ov’r all.
Your authority comes from Him.
Without that you can do nothing.
You are powerless.
Pilate wanted to release You,
But the Jews clamoured for Your death,
“Crucify! Crucify Him,” they screamed.
A death Pilate assented for You, my Lord.
Pilate refused to acknowledge Truth when it was before his eyes, teach me to acknowledge You as the truth, the way and the life, dearest Saviour. Amen.
THE CRUCIFIXION - JOHN 19. 17. 30
This is a painting by Hans Memling in the 15thC, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.
The Roman used their spear twice during the Crucifixion. Firstly to offer Christ the soaked sponge of vinegar, and secondly to pierce His side to make sure that He was already dead. On piercing His side outflowed both water and blood that in the words of St. Augustine became “the twin sacraments”.
Who is able to endure your suffering dear Lord?
Of the nails being driven into your hands and feet
And hoisted so high, so high on your cross.
You go to breathe, but there is little air,
The pain is excruciating and penetrates
Every part of Your still panting body.
Despite that intense pain and agony
You know this is Your victory over evil.
You are indeed the King of the Jews.
Your Father’s will has been accomplished
as you lived so you die in obedience.
The sin of man has been expiated.
You die so quickly, no struggle for you.
It is Your life offered to the Father.
In loving service rendered for man.
At dusk the soldiers pierced your side,
Yes you were already dead, but life
Still flowed in that stream of blood and water.
O dearest Lord all this you endured
so that we might lovely be
bathed in Your fountain of blood. M.D.
O heavenly Father we give thanks for the death of your son our Lord Jesus Christ who has taken away the sin of the world, and has opened the gate of paradise through His redeeming love. Amen
THE BURIAL AND TOMB - JOHN 19. 38 - 42
THE SAINTLY WOMEN AT THE TOMB
This is a painting by the van Eycks brothers in the 15thC. It hangs in the Museum Boyman-van Beuningen, Rotterdam. It a painting faithful to scripture, showing the guardian angel, guards, the three women (though one missing in this scaled down version of painting). However the tomb itself does not reflect scripture or mid-Eastern traditions as a cave dug out of a hillside; instead it is depicted as a sarcophagus.
Your mission accomplished Lord,
Peace at last in the arms of Joseph
as the clamouring ceases.
Nicodemus helps Joseph
to anoint lavishly your body,
lacerated from extravagant scourging.
They wrap your dear body
in a clean linen cloth
and place you gently in a tomb.
Watching silently before Sabbath,
are the women of Galilee,
absorbed in their grief.
Could this really have happened?
Is our Master dead
Who raised Lazarus from the tomb?
Sundown, and they must flee
to their homes to observe
the Sabbath in prayer.
The first light streaks across the horizon,
the Sabbath gives way to a new dawn,
But who will roll the stone away?
Laden with spices they returned
to anoint the blessed body of Jesus,
instead an angel in white greets them,
HE IS NOT HERE; HE IS RISEN!
As we rest with You in the tomb dear Lord, may we also rise with You in that newness of life that comes from your glorious triumph over death. Amen.