During Holy Week, we hear two accounts of the passion and death of Jesus: once on Palm Sunday and once on Good Friday. The liturgical year determines which evangelist we hear from on Palm Sunday (Matthew in Year A, Mark in Year B and Luke in Year C), whereas each Good Friday we listen to John’s Gospel.
Except we don’t just ‘listen’. It is common for the congregation to be asked to read the words spoken by the crowd in the passion narratives, just one way in which we are drawn into the events. There is also the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday, for example, the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday or the veneration of the cross on Good Friday: it is very difficult for us to be passive in the liturgies of Holy Week. We are participants in the drama and its meaning.
Yet in each reading of the passion, when we reach the point at which Jesus takes his last breath on the cross, we pause to kneel in silence. Prayer and reverence are the only responses asked of us at that moment, the only responses we can make.
There will come soon enough the quaking of the earth and the tearing of the temple curtain, the words of bystanders and the actions of soldiers. But this is a time for stillness, in which our imaginations can hardly bear to contemplate the words with which they have just been presented.
And so at this Station, too, it seems fitting to pause. To invite you not to study words upon words, but to pray with just a few. Pray as you go’s Stations of the Cross are a guide to praying with the events of the Triduum, and it is Mark’s Gospel that recounts to us how Jesus dies on the cross. Listen to the reflection, and let it bring you as close as you can bear to be to ‘the heavy weight of what Jesus has taken on, [which] challenges us to see in it the heavy weight of God’s glory.’
‘What do I see? Do I see glory here? Do I see kingship? Do I come near or stand far off? Am I at least fully present?’