FROM this day, called Passion Sunday, until Easter the Church gives herself up entirely to meditation on the passion of Jesus. Today the crucifixes are covered, in remembrance that from this time until His entrance into Jerusalem Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews.
From today the Glory be to the Father is omitted in the Mass, because in the person of Jesus Christ the Most Holy Trinity was dishonoured. As on this day the high priests held council about Our Lord, the Church says, at the Introit of the Mass, in the name of the suffering Jesus, the words of the psalmist: “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. For thou art God my strength: why hast thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me? Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles.” (Psalm 42:1–3).
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, mercifully look upon Thy family, that by Thy bounty it may be governed in body, and by Thy preservation be kept in mind. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, etc.
EPISTLE Hebrews 9:11-15
Brethren: But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
St. Paul here teaches that Jesus Christ has given full satisfaction for the sins of men, and opened to all the entrance into the sanctuary. The Church proposes this epistle to us in order that we may thank God for the great mercy of the redemption, love and praise Him, and be encouraged to share in His sufferings by fasting, prayer, and penitential works.
Give us Thy grace, O meekest Jesus, that by true sorrow for our sins, and by the practice of good works, we may become partakers of Thy bitter sufferings, and obtain the promised inheritance of eternal life. Amen.
GOSPEL John 8:46-59
At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me. But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
When Our Saviour said: “He that is of God heareth God’s words,” He meant to point out to the Jews the cause of their stubborn unbelief. He that is of God hears and loves that which is God like. When, therefore, we gladly hear the word of God and strive to do what we have heard, we testify that we are the children of God. Instead of reflecting on Our Saviour’s words the Jews poured out their offended pride and abuse, and called Him a Samaritan, and one having a devil. The same thing happens today. Instead of listening to the truth the proud man answers with calumny and contempt. Our Saviour hid Himself from the Jews to teach us to forgive and avoid our enemies rather than to oppose them and take revenge on them.
Consolation under Insults
O friend, what insult can be given to you which your Saviour has not suffered? He was called a glutton and a drunkard, a heretic and a rebel, a friend and associate of sinners, and one who had a devil; He was even told by the Pharisees: “By the prince of devils he casteth out devils”. (Matthew 9:34). He, therefore, comforts His disciples with the words, “If they have called the goodman of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household?” (Matthew 10:25). There is no sorrow so bitter that He has not borne it, for what was more painful and grievous than the death of the cross? Christians, “For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3).