Weekly Gospel Reflection

The Passion narrative

John 18:1 – 19:42

This time of year, I am reminded of the song Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows and it’s lyric “you don’t know what you got till its gone… they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”  This song calls on its listeners to look after and appreciate the world around us.


My mind also turns to the period throughout COVID we were all deprived of the most rudimentary things in our lives … students being able to come to school, seeing our families or even travelling across our city without limitation.  When thinking of what we miss, our mind turns to loved ones who are now gone or memories we wish we could relive.  


Finally at this time of year due to Lent the flowers are in the church are removed and throughout the Holy Week, statues will be covered and finally the Holy Sacrament taken away. By Good Friday, the church will have been stripped of everything that makes it special. 


All the Gospels tell of the Good Friday account, albeit with slight differences. 


On the first Good Friday, after a series of trials and interrogations by the Jewish and Roman authorities, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion, a common Roman punishment. Aware of his innocence, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, offered the crowd the choice of releasing Jesus or Barabbas, a murderer; they chose Barabbas. Pilate ceremonially washed his hands to assert his innocence of Jesus’ death.


He had Jesus flogged – in itself a brutal punishment that frequently led to the death of those who suffered it – and led out to crucifixion. In keeping with the custom, Jesus had to carry his own cross. Exhausted and in pain, he fell under the burden and the Romans forced a bystander, Simon of Cyrene, to carry it for him.


Jesus was crucified between two thieves, one of whom cursed him while the other said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ A sign over his head read, ‘This is the King of the Jews’.


He died after six hours of pain, a relatively short time when victims could linger for days. The authorities were anxious to conclude their business before the Sabbath began, and broke the legs of the two thieves to hasten their end. Jesus was already dead, but a soldier stabbed him in the heart to make sure. 


Different Gospels retell what Jesus said as he was dying. He said of the crowd, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.’ To the thief he said, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.’ He commended his mother and his disciple John to each other, saying: ‘Behold your son…behold your mother.’ In a moment of desolation, he cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 


He said ‘I thirst’ and was offered wine and vinegar on a sponge; immediately before he died he said, ‘It is finished’ and ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’

A centurion standing by said, ‘Truly, this man was the son of God.’ 


This week’s Gospel is missing however the final chapter – the resurrection of Jesus three days later. It is this missing piece of the puzzle that transforms the sadness of this reading into a story of hope.


We are called this week to appreciate and cherish what the things around us that matter most to us, but that we may too often take for granted. Pick up the phone and call the friend you haven’t caught up with for too long, zoom a family member who lives far away or pause an enjoy that extra special moment a little longer. 


Dear Lord, 


We humbly thank You for choosing to die for us on Good Friday. Help us to always be grateful for Your loving sacrifice.


You chose to die on the cross for all people because of Your love for us. You call us to imitate Your love. We are called to love You above all and to love all other people out of love for You. It is not always easy for us to practice the charity You call us to practice, but You can help us to grow in the true love of You that this charity requires.


Please help us to faithfully commemorate Your death on Good Friday, and we particularly ask today that You help us and all people to grow in charity.


St John Vianney, 


Pray for Us 


By Jonathan Rooney with excerpt from Mark Woods – Biblesociety.org.uk