MY CATHOLIC FAITH
XXXIV. The Passion
After the Last Supper, Jesus went with His Apostles to the Garden of Gethsemani. And going a little ,further, He fell upon His face, praying: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wiltest” (Matt. 26:39). After praying three times the same prayer, Jesus said to His disciples: “Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go. Behold, he who betrays Me is at hand” (Matt. 26:45-46). Judas had come.
(Fourth Article of the Apostles’ Creed.)
What important events marked the end of Our Lord’s public life? –The following events marked the end of Our Lord’s public life: His solemn entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper He ate with His Apostles, and finally, His passion and death.
Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem in triumph, riding on an ass, with children waving palms and singing.
The Church commemorates the entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. On that day palms are blessed, and there is a procession, in memory of the palms that the joyous people waved at the entrance into Jerusalem of Our Lord. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. The week following it is called Holy Week.
On the Thursday evening after His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus ate the Paschal Supper with His Apostles. We call it the Last Supper, for it was the last meal He ate before His death.
The Jews celebrated the feast of the Pasch in memory of their deliverance from Egypt. They had been saved by the blood of the paschal lamb.
After the Supper, Our Lord washed the feet of the Apostles. He did this to teach us humility.
In commemoration, the celebrant of Holy Thursday Mass today washes the feet of twelve men, after the Gospel.
After the washing of feet, Our Lord instituted the Blessed Eucharist, said the first Mass, and gave His Apostles their first Holy Communion.
What is meant by the Redemption? –By the Redemption is meant that Jesus Christ, as Redeemer of the whole human race, offered His sufferings and death to God as a fitting sacrifice in satisfaction for the sins of men, and regained for them the right to be children of God and heirs of heaven.
A redeemer is one who pays in order to get back something lost. He gives satisfaction, compensation for an offense or injury done another.
No creature could, of himself, make satisfaction for sin. Sin offends an infinite God, and therefore would need infinite satisfaction. Therefore Someone Infinite, Jesus Christ, had to offer that satisfaction.
Jesus Christ suffered and died as man; as God He could neither suffer nor die. He suffered excruciatingly in order to make full reparation for sin, and to impress on us the great evil of sin. Even only one sin is so abominable to God that not all the deluges and fires can wipe off the stain. Only the blood of God Himself can do so. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6).
Christ died for all men, without exception. He is the Redeemer of all men. Not all men are saved because not all accept the graces which Christ merited for us by His death. Many do not believe in Him. Of those who believe, many lead sinful lives.
“Christ also loved us and delivered himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). We can never realise fully that God died for us. We can never repay Him in this life or the next. The only way we can show our appreciation is to live according to His will.
What were the chief sufferings of Christ? –The chief sufferings of Christ were His bitter agony of soul, His bloody sweat, His cruel scourging, His crowning with thorns, His crucifixion, and His death on the cross.
Christ had often foretold His Passion. “For he was teaching his disciples, and saying to them ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and having been killed, he will rise again on the third day”‘ (Mark 9:30). Again: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the Scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and will deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again” (Mark 10:33-34).
From the Last Supper, Christ went with His Apostles to the Garden of Olives to pray. There He was overwhelmed with sorrow and agony so that He sweated blood.
Our Lord looked forward to His agony, saying to His Apostles, “That the, world may know that I love the Father and that I do as the Father has commanded me. Arise, let us go from here” (John 14:31) . In the Garden, Jesus felt so sad at the sins of men and at what would befall Him that He said, “My soul is sad even unto death” (Matt. 26:38). To His Father, He cried out in pain, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). In agony, “his sweat became as drops of blood, running down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas, seized by soldiers, led before the high priest, and condemned to death. The Sanhedrin, the council of the Jews, headed by Caiphas the high priest, condemned Jesus to death for the crime of blasphemy, because He claimed to be Christ the Son of God.
“Then the high priest, standing up, said to him, ‘Dost thou make no answer to the things that these men prefer against thee?’ But Jesus kept silence. And the high priest said to him, ‘I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thou hast said it.’ … Then the high priest tore his garment, saying, ‘He has blasphemed; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ And they answered and said, ‘He is liable to death'” (Matt. 26:62-66)
Jesus Christ was led to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, to have His sentence confirmed. At the time the Jews were forbidden by their Roman masters from putting anyone to death without the confirmation of the Governor. Pilate questioned Christ time and again, but had to say to His accusers: “I find no guilt in Him.”
The Jewish Priests and Pharisees hated and persecuted Jesus because they expected the Messias to be an earthly king. They were so wicked that in spite of the proofs of Christ’s divinity, they would not believe a poor man could be the Messias. They hated Jesus; He had rebuked them for their sins.
But Pilate wished to please the Jews, and had Jesus scourged, Jesus was bound to a pillar, His clothes torn off; strong men with whips, cords, and straps with iron spikes scourged Him, and the whole body of Our Lord was one great wound.
“And the soldiers, plaiting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head and arrayed him in a purple cloak. And they kept coming to him and saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him. Pilate therefore again went outside and said to them, ‘Behold, I bring him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ Jesus, therefore, came forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, ‘Behold the man!'”
At last, fearing that if he did not permit Jesus to be put to death the Jews would accuse him before Caesar, Pilate gave in to the insistence of the Jews and delivered Him to them to be crucified.
Christ was made to carry His cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Mount Calvary. He was nailed to the cross about noon, dying three hours afterwards, crucified between two thieves.