V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. [We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.]
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum. [Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.]
From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:42-43, 46
And when evening had come, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, bought a linen shroud, and took the body of Jesus down from the Cross.
|Willem Key, Lamentation of Christ (16th c.)|
When the body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross and laid in his Mother’s arms, in our mind’s eye we glimpse again the moment when Mary accepted the message brought by the angel Gabriel: “And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:31-33). Mary had replied simply: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), as though even then she wanted to give expression to what she now experiences. In the mystery of the Redemption, grace – the gift of God himself – is interwoven with a “price” paid by the human heart. In this mystery we are enriched by a gift from on high (Jas 1:17) and at the same time “bought” by the ransom paid by the Son of God (cf. 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; Acts 20:28). And Mary, who more than anyone was enriched by gifts, pays all the more. With her heart. Inseparable from this mystery is the extraordinary promise spoken of by Simeon during the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: “And a sword will pierce through your heart, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35). This promise has also been fulfilled. How many human hearts bleed for the heart of this Mother who has paid so dearly! Once again Jesus lies in her arms, as he did in the stable in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2:16), during the flight into Egypt (cf. Mt 2:14) and at Nazareth (cf. Lk 2:39-40). Pietà.
Holy Mary, Mother of inexpressible sorrow, with you we open our arms to Life himself, and humbly beseech him: R. Kyrie, eleison.
Holy Mary, Mother and associate of the Redeemer, in communion with you we open our arms to Christ, and filled with hope we call upon him. R. Kyrie, eleison.
From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:54-55
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
|Pietro Lorenzetti, Deposition of Christ from the Cross (1320)|
Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord. Jesus’ legs are not broken, like those of the two men crucified with him. He is thus revealed as the true Paschal lamb, not one of whose bones must be broken (cf. Es 12:46). And now, at the end of his sufferings, it is clear that, for all the dismay which filled men’s hearts, for all the power of hatred and cowardice, he was never alone. There are faithful ones who remain with him. Under the Cross stand Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden. At Jesus’ burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.
Lord, you descended into the darkness of death. But your body is placed in good hands and wrapped in a white shroud (Mt 27:59). Faith has not completely died; the sun has not completely set. How often does it appear that you are asleep? How easy it is for us to step back and say to ourselves: “God is dead”. In the hour of darkness, help us to know that you are still there. Do not abandon us when we are tempted to lose heart. Help us not to leave you alone. Give us the fidelity to withstand moments of confusion and a love ready to embrace you in your utter helplessness, like your Mother, who once more holds you to her breast. Help us, the poor and rich, simple and learned, to look beyond all our fears and prejudices, and to offer you our abilities, our hearts and our time, and thus to prepare a garden for the Resurrection.
|Thirteenth Station of the Cross (detail),
Pfettisheim Saint Symphorian
Pater noster, …
Vidit suum dulcem Natum
cum emisit spiritum