Today is Good Friday. This is the only day in the Catholic Church when there is no Mass. Prayer services today (not mass) use hosts consecrated yesterday, solely for today.
Some believe the term “Good” evolved from “God” or God’s Friday. Others believe “good” represents the good gift of salvation brought forth by the martyrdom. Regardless, it is a holy day throughout the Christian world.
Pope John Paul II (the Great) died five years ago today.
Today’s reflection is Jesus in the Garden.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. — Henry Ford
When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. (NAB Jn 18:1-5)
This particular gospel reading does not mention the agony in the garden, and the kiss of Judas; nor is the identity of the place known as the Mount of Olives mentioned.
Jesus had left the upper room, where the “last meal” was held, heading towards the Kidron valley. Judas had already left, and was assembling a mob, in order to arrest Jesus.
Jesus wanted to pray and be with His heavenly Father privately, one last time prior to His death. He wanted to let God know He wished for another plan, but would obey His Father unconditionally. Jesus knew He was to be condemned and humiliated by a group that once saw Him as a teacher and friend.
Darkness had fallen, as torches and lanterns were used by the mob. Jesus, the light of the world, was to have this evil act started in the darkness of that Thursday night. How curious that this evil act also ends in darkness, the afternoon of the next day! Makes me think about, and reflect on the “bright light” emanating from the burial cave on Easter Sunday morning. Light will always overtake darkness!! Sunrises will always be different for me now.
Roman troops, numbering anywhere from 200 (a maniple) to 600 (a full cohort, or 1/10 of a legion) came after Jesus. John (the writer of this gospel) is hinting at Roman collusion in the action against Jesus, prior to being brought before Pilate. This many people coming after “one” person. I wonder if they thought that if Jesus was the “Messiah,” He would be protected by either a worldly, or heavenly, army of some type. If this was the reason, it makes the Sanhedrin even more hypocritical by wanting to kill someone THEY knew was the Messiah!
“I AM” was probably intended as an expression of divinity by Jesus. Jesus knows who He is; that being the “Son of God.” His use of the term “I AM” (Yahweh in Hebrew) literally knocks the arresting party off their feet. The Jewish people, even to this day, do not say this name out of the extreme reverence they have for God. For Jesus to say this had to totally stun anyone who heard Him pronounce such a name, for Himself.
Jesus’ courage when saying “I AM” also contrasts with Peter’s cowering fear when he said three times, “I AM NOT!” Jesus, though humble and having fear for the approaching events, stood His ground and allowed the actions to run its course. He had total confidence in His Father’s love.
Peter, on the other hand, initially acted with a reactive violence, and then total fear. Peter ran off, and observed the Passion of Jesus from a distance. When challenged several times, he denied, without hesitation, his allegiance to Jesus Christ: his Lord!
“Jesus, please allow me the courage to stand with you at my hour of need. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Bl. Elisabetta Vendramini
Blessed Elisabetta Vendramini, (1790-1860), Born in Bassano del Grappa near Treviso, at age 27. Elisabetta broke off an engagement to marry and decided to alleviate the moral and material sufferings of the poor. She began working at a girls’ orphanage in her hometown in 1820 and joined the Secular Franciscan Order the following year. After moving to Padua in 1828, she continued working with children. In 1830 she founded the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. Until her death Elisabetta guided this community, which dedicated itself to teaching as well as caring for the elderly, orphans and the sick. She united her physical sufferings with those of Christ and the Sorrowful Mother Mary. Elisabetta was beatified in 1990.
(Source: St. Anthony Messenger website)
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #2:
The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.