Scripture Reading: Prayerfully read some or all of the following passages:
Context: The moment that Jesus died, the Gospels recount that the veil of the Temple was miraculously torn in two, the earth shook, rocks split, tombs were opened and many who had died came forth from their graves. It was customary in Jewish tradition that when someone heard of the death of a loved one, they tore their shirt over their heart as a sign of sorrow. Thus, symbolically we can see the tearing of the veil of the Temple as an act of the Father in Heaven at the death of His divine Son.
The Temple was also seen as a symbol of Christ Himself. Only the priest could pass by the veil to enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifice to God. Christ was the new High Priest and He offered Himself as the perpetual Sacrificial Lamb. The Holy of Holies was now open to the whole world, and all who unite themselves to the Sacrificial Lamb can now enter the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies, Heaven Itself, Who is Christ Himself.
John’s Gospel recounts the piercing of the flesh of Christ by a soldier. As he thrust his lance into the heart of Christ, the veil of His sacred flesh was pierced. Thus, the tearing of the veil of the Temple can be seen as an act in unison with the piercing of the veil of the flesh of Christ. As water and blood gushed forth from His side, the grace and mercy of His saving sacrifice gushed forth from the new Temple upon the world.
The blood and water from the heart of Christ must also be seen as the Sacraments, especially Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. We enter the Holy of Holies with Christ by the means of these Sacraments which act as channels of His grace in our world.
The centurion looked on and cried out that Jesus was innocent. This can only be understood as a gift of divine light. He was given the gift of faith as the veil was lifted so that he, and all of us, would now believe in Christ the sacrificial Lamb of God who, as Priest, offered His life for the salvation of all.
The holy women also looked on from a distance. They also symbolize all who gaze at our Lord in hope of receiving the gift of eternal life.
Reflection: Ponder the scene prayerfully using the following points if useful.
- Jesus finally dies and hands over His spirit. Ponder the moment of His sacred passing as He cried out, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit,” and “It is finished.” Look around at all the faces of those gazing at His sacred countenance.
- As you ponder the silence, mystery and shock of His death, be attentive to the sudden earthquake. Consider the Temple veil as it tears from top to bottom. See the many saints coming forth from their tombs.
- See the soldiers breaking the legs of the two criminals on Jesus’ right and left. And see the one soldier thrust his lance into Jesus’ side. Ponder the blood and water gushing forth. Consider the effect this had on the soldier who was said to have been converted. Hear him cry out, “This truly was the Son of God.”
- Ponder also the blood and water as the outpouring of grace and mercy upon the whole world. That Divine Mercy continues to pour forth today. Take time to reflect upon that mercy being poured out upon you on account of your Baptism and reception of the Most Holy Eucharist.
- Lastly, see yourself gathered with the holy women who looked on from a distance. Consider the burning love, especially, of Jesus’ own mother as she awaited His Sacred Body soon to be taken down from the Cross.
- Life Decisions and Resolutions
- Palm Sunday
- Leading up to Holy Thursday
- Last Supper
- Agony in the Garden
- Jesus is Arrested and Brought Before Annas
- Jesus is Brought Before Caiaphas
- Jesus is Brought Before Pilate
- Jesus is Brought Before Herod
- Second Trial by Pilate
- Jesus Carries His Cross and is Crucified
- Jesus Speaks From the Cross
- Jesus Dies on the Cross
- Jesus’ Body in the Arms of His Mother
- Jesus is Buried
- Holy Saturday