Background: The passion and death of Jesus Christ were the most dramatic events in His life, the point of arrival of his mission. This is why all the four evangelists give such a detailed description of all the series of events, from the institution of the Eucharist to the burial of Jesus.
Introduction: Each evangelist, however, emphasizes some aspects of Jesus’ Passion in keeping with the whole plan of his Gospel, which was written for a specific audience.
Mark’s Passion Narrative is the shortest and is probably the most objective. It is characterized by an incisive style and insists on ocular witnesses. (See 14:33; 15:21.40.43-44). It honestly admits the shock which the cruxificion of Jesus produced in his disciples (see 14:27), for they did not understand- as yet- that it was through Jesus’ death that the salvation of mankind was to be achieved.
(Long Form – Mk 14:1-15:47)
As soon as morning came,
the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
“Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of.”
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
“Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?”
They shouted again, “Crucify him.”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.”
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.
The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.
They brought him to the place of Golgotha
—which is translated Place of the Skull —
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
“The King of the Jews.”
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
“Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross.”
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe.”
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“Look, he is calling Elijah.”
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Historical Background: An anonymous prophet known as “Second Isaiah”, who exercised his ministry among the Israelites during the final part of the Exile and the beginning of the restoration, composed four poems known as the “Songs of the Servant of the Lord.” These oracles describe the character, the mission, and the suffering of a mysterious figure characterized by the total obedience to God. The Church sees in the “Servant” a prophetic image of the Messiah – Jesus Christ.
Introduction: This short passage is the first part of the third oracle of “The Servant of the Lord.” The one speaking is the Servant himself who describes:
i. the various gifts the Lord has given him (vv.4-5)
ii. the total availability with which he responds to the Lord’s expectation (see same verses); and
iii. his patient endurance of sufferings and humiliations, made strong by the Lord’s assistance.
All this is a prophecy about:
a. the Life of Jesus Christ, which was characterized by obedience to the father and service to the people (see Jn 4:34 and Mk 1:38), and especially about
b. his redeeming suffering and death. (See Mt 26:67; 27:30 and Lk 23:40)
The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.
The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
Historical Background: The Apostle Paul is concerned about divisions caused by pride and selfishness among the members of the community of Philipi. As a remedy to such situation, he presents to them the example of Christ’s humility.
Introduction: These six verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippias contain the clearest synthesis of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, the two principal truths about our Savior Jesus Christ.
This short composition was most probably a hymn to Christ already sung at the time of Paul in some Christian communinites. It presents:
i. the humble and obedient attitude of Jesus as an example to be followed by all believers (see vv. 6-8); and
ii. his glorification by God the Father as an initiative to be imitated by all creatures (See vv.9-11)
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Sanhedrin: (V.1) (Anglicized form of the Greek synderion- council) The highest religious body in Israel, which probably started existing in the third century B.C. It was composed of 71 members , presided over by the high priest in office. The members belonged to three different classes of people: the high priest and former high priests, the elders of the chief families, and members of the sect of the Pharisees.
Pilate: (V.1) The Roman Procurator during the period of Jesus’ public ministry, from A.D.25 to A.D. 35 He condemned Jesus to death, yielding to the demands of the crown, in spite of the fact that he had found hi innocent.
Barabbas: (v.7) A Jewish revolutionary and murderer who had been imprisoned by the Romans. He was released by Pilate instead of Jesus, at the request of the Jews on the occassion of the Passover Feast.
Praetorium (v.16) The palace in Jerusalem where Pilate used to reside during his stay in the city.
Golgotha(v.22) The Aramaic name of the place where Jesus was crucified. It was a raise area outside the city walls. The word “Golgotha” means “Place of the Skull.” Its corresponding English word is “Calvary” which derives from the Latin Calvarium or Calvarie locus – the place where criminals and insurgents were usually executed by the Romans.
Centurion(v.39) An officer in the Roman army having authority over 100 soldiers.