Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You say so." But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?" But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?" For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him." Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." Pilate said to them, "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" All of them said, "Let him be crucified!" Then he asked, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!" So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." Then the people as a whole answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha — which means Place of the Skull —, they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall. But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink. After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And they placed over his head the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!" Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel! Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way. From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "This one is calling for Elijah." Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, 'Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him." But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. Here all kneel and pause for a short time. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, "Truly, this was the Son of God!"
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely on the road to Calvary. If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I'm certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it there on the wood of the cross. So I long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm determination to spread your love to everyone.
Petition: Lord, help my faith in you to grow.
1. Are You the King of the Jews? Pilate, a non-believer, directs this question to Christ. It is a question that many in our contemporary society are asking and to which we have the answer. Christ is not only the King of the Jews, but the King of the Gentiles and the King of all men and women of all times, the Lord of life and history. He is the son of God. I must make this belief a reality in my life; I must make a deep act of faith in Christ in my prayer. Without this Christ-centered prayer, I would be like the people in the crowd on Palm Sunday who praised Christ when he entered Jerusalem in glory but who rejected him just a few days later. Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to believe in you!
2. His Blood Be on Us and on Our Children: These words reveal the passion of the crowd. This attitude prevented them from standing up for what they knew to be the will of God -- defending this good man who was unjustly condemned. We are no different. Each one of us in our own lives has betrayed the Lord through our own personal sins. We must live these days close to Christ in the Eucharist. The Holy Father says that the Church's very "foundation and wellspring is the whole Triduum paschal, but this is as it were gathered up, foreshadowed and 'concentrated' forever in the gift of the Eucharist. In this gift Jesus Christ entrusted to his Church the perennial making present of the paschal mystery. With it he brought about a mysterious 'oneness in time' between that Triduum and the passage of the centuries" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no.5).
3. Hail, King of the Jews! These words of the Gospel were directed toward Christ as mockery and as an insult, signifying the total absence of faith in the son of God. The same words were used by those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The same can happen with us. External impressions, emotions, peer pressure, pragmatism and many other influences, often nullify our faith. Yet, some faithful followers — most notably the Blessed Virgin and St. John -- stayed with Christ with unwavering fidelity from the beginning until the end. Today Christ needs the same from us. May these words be on our lips forever: "Long live Christ the King!"
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the King of every soul. I realize that I have been unfaithful to you at different times in my life, but with joyful gratitude I thank you for your forgiveness. If you hadn't gone through that sorrowful Holy Week, where would I be now? May I respond with loyalty and gratitude forever.
Resolution: Today I will pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to embark upon Holy Week with her guidance and intercession.