Sunday, 7 December 2014 : Second Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue through the second Sunday of the Advent season, and we go deeper into the preparation we are carrying out this Advent, to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s readings serve as a further reminder of the eventual coming of our Lord in triumph, just as He had once come into the world as one of us, as Jesus Christ the Son of Man.

Today’s readings spoke about the servant and messenger of God’s will, John the Baptist, the one who was sent by God ahead of Himself, to prepare the way for His coming and to prepare the people so that when He Himself came, they would be ready and more prepared to listen to His message and be called to salvation. This in itself, also carries the same meaning of ‘preparation’ which Advent is truly about, the preparation for the coming of Christ.

We can see that the Lord had planned everything well in advance, and indeed, the coming of John the Baptist had been prophesied long earlier by the prophet Isaiah and the other prophets, who spoke of him as the second coming of the prophet Elijah into this world, and as God’s messenger to open up His path. Indeed, John the Baptist had been prepared for this mission from the very beginning, just as his conception and birth was special.

The prophet Elijah, if we read the Old Testament in the Book of Kings, was the faithful servant of God and prophet, who strived to bring the people of God who had erred in their ways and rebelled against the Lord, to return to the way of the Lord and be reconciled to Him. The authorities, the kings of Israel and their servants often made his works difficult, and it was often that he was hounded and pursued for his faith to God.

Yet, the prophet Elijah never gave up nor did he abandon his calling. He ministered faithfully to the people of God, and he endured all the difficulties, calling on the people of God to repent and change their ways, and many responded to his call, although equally many of them rejected his call and continued in their sinful ways. He was then, at the end of his mission, brought up to heaven on flaming chariots, and was hidden from the view of men ever since, until his coming again into the world as John.

John was born with the spirit of Elijah on him, and thus he was prepared to continue the same ministry which God had entrusted to Elijah. Even many centuries after the first coming of Elijah, and after the terrible experiences of the Babylonian exile, the people of God was still filled with sin, and they were still following the wicked ways of their ancestors. Thus, what Elijah had once done to bring the people of God back, needed to be done again.

The Lord had, for a long time, promised his people that He will come to save them and bring them back to Himself. He had promised His salvation through the Messiah that He would send into the world. But in a world still filled with so much sin and wickedness, especially even among the people of God, the people of Israel and Judea, the coming of the Messiah would have been made much more difficult if it had not been well prepared beforehand.

Thus, God sent his servant John, the second coming of Elijah, into the world so that he might straighten the path for the Messiah, or the Christ when He came. And that was what St. John the Baptist did, he laboured in thankless works, reviled and rejected by the Pharisees, who criticised him and questioned and doubted the authority and authenticity of his actions.

Yes, just as the people and the kings of Israel rejected Elijah and persisted in their sins, the same too occurred to John the Baptist. The Pharisees and the elders refused to see their sinfulness and refused to repent, thus later on they would prove to be great enemies and stumbling blocks for our Lord as well. Nevertheless, many people responded to John’s call, giving themselves to be baptised in the Jordan and repented from their sins.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of a saint, whose life and ministry would closely resemble what St. John the Baptist had gone through. St. Ambrosius or St. Ambrose, known better as St. Ambrose of Milan, through his position as the Bishop of Milan, was a great saint, a great pillar of the Church, a holy servant of God, one of the original Doctors of the Church, and ultimately, a fierce and fearless defender of the true Faith.

St. Ambrose was born during the late era of the Roman Empire, and he lived during a time when the Faith had been accepted as part of the Empire, and was being followed by more and more of the people of the Empire. However, many of the faithful at that time were misled by the numerous heresies and perversions of the Faith, leading them into wicked sins, which St. Ambrose would help to counter.

Despite being known as the Bishop of Milan, one of the most influential posts at the time in the Church, St. Ambrose was not originally meant for a life in the episcopate or even priesthood. St. Ambrose was a very influential and intelligent person, and his great intellect helped him to master many learnings and he was soon appointed as the Imperial Governor of the region of Aemilia-Liguria, and he was a very popular governor, as he was truly very competent and dedicated.

There was a great division in the Church at Milan at the time, the capital of Ambrose’s governorate, and after the bishop of Milan at the time, who was one of the heretics, died, the succession was filled with great bitterness and feud. St. Ambrose went to the church where the election was held, to prevent fighting and chaos from breaking out.

There, he was acclaimed by all present to be the new Bishop of Milan, regarding to his piety and popularity among the people, his righteousness and upright nature. He was immediately then ordained as a priest and the episcopate. Immediately, as the Bishop, he forbade all the teachings of heresies in his domains, and he strived hard to spread the true teachings of the Faith to the people entrusted under his care.

St. Ambrose did not have it easy, as there were many oppositions and challenges which he had to endure and counter against throughout his ministry. In particular, the Dowager Empress and the young Emperor under her care were heretics and influenced by the teachings of heresy. St. Ambrose tried hard to bring them and many others to see the Light of the true Faith, and many repented, but not the Empress and many others.

St. Ambrose publicly denounced even the Emperor, the Dowager Empress and the other heretical accomplices they had. This indeed reminds us of what St. John the Baptist had done, brothers and sisters? He who opposed and denounced the Pharisees publicly as brood of vipers and evil. And also Elijah, who condemned kings who caused the people to turn against the Lord their God.

And St. Ambrose did not even fear to excommunicate a powerful and mighty Emperor of the mightiest Empire in the world. The famous Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great, who vanquished his enemies and gained supreme power over the whole of the Empire, even though he was pious and true to the orthodox faith, but he was implicated in his part in the great massacre of the civilians and innocents in the great city of Thessalonica.

St. Ambrose excommunicated the Emperor and condemned him greatly in public for his involvement in the massacre. Only after the Emperor repented and in great humility, taking off his Imperial garments, wearing sackcloth and making public confession for his sins and reaffirmation of his faith in God, then St. Ambrose forgave his sins, and welcomed him back into the Church of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what are the significance of what I have shared with you, on this Sunday’s readings, on the lives of Elijah, St. John the Baptist and St. Ambrose of Milan? All of them are about that all of us ought to make ample and sufficient preparation to prepare for the coming of our Lord. We cannot be complacent and unprepared, for remember, in the second reading today, St. Peter in his letter reminded us yet again, that the coming of the Lord will be like a flash, fast and unpredictable. If we do not prepare thoroughly, then we will be caught unaware and unprepared, and grim is our fate if that is the case.

How do we then prepare ourselves? We have to follow the examples of the holy and devoted servants of God, which we have already just heard. We have to stand up for our faith and truly practice it in our own lives. And then, we should not be afraid to point out the truth of Christ to others. After all, through our baptism, we have been called to be the witnesses of the Lord in this world, and as witnesses, it is only fitting that all of us do our part to evangelise the Good News, through our actions, so that all who see us may know the Lord through us and come to believe in Him.

It is important that all of us are prepared thoroughly for the coming of Christ, and thus it is also fitting that we should help one another in our preparations. We mist safeguard each other and keep one another in the faith in Christ, and in order to do so, we too should be prepared ourselves. Therefore, learn about the Faith we have in God, strengthen our devotion for the Lord and read always the Holy Scriptures with understanding.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may this Advent be a great opportunity for us to renew ourselves, in our commitment to serve the Lord, and in our commitment to live our faith faithfully and genuinely, with love both for Him and for our fellow men. Let us follow the examples of the prophet Elijah, St. John the Baptist and St. Ambrose of Milan in their great courage to be witnesses of the faith. We too can be like them, and it is important that when the Lord comes again, as He had promised, He finds us ready, prepared, alert and awake!

May all of us become like the holy servants of God, and preparing the way for our Lord, just as those holy servants had done in the past. Let us bring the Good News of God and become witnesses of His to all the world by our actions, filled with faith and love, so that we may bring more souls to salvation, and make ready this world for the future coming of our Lord in glory, and He will reward us on the last day. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/05/sunday-7-december-2014-second-sunday-of-advent-memorial-of-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor-of-the-church-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/05/sunday-7-december-2014-second-sunday-of-advent-memorial-of-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor-of-the-church-psalm/

 

Second Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/05/sunday-7-december-2014-second-sunday-of-advent-memorial-of-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor-of-the-church-second-reading/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/05/sunday-7-december-2014-second-sunday-of-advent-memorial-of-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor-of-the-church-gospel-reading/

 

Epistle (Usus Antiquior) :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/05/usus-antiquior-second-sunday-of-advent-and-feast-of-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor-of-the-church-i-classis-sunday-7-december-2014-epistle/

 

Gospel (Usus Antiquior) :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/05/usus-antiquior-second-sunday-of-advent-and-feast-of-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor-of-the-church-i-classis-sunday-7-december-2014-holy-gospel/

Friday, 18 April 2014 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, Easter Triduum (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 18 : 1 – John 19 : 42

When Jesus had finished speaking, He went with His disciples to the other side of the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there, which Jesus entered with His disciples.

Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, since Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas took soldiers and some servants from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they went to the garden with lanterns, torches and weapons.

Jesus knew all that was going to happen to Him; He stepped forward and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus said, “I am He.” Judas, who betrayed Him, stood there with them. When Jesus said, “I am He,” they moved back and fell to the ground.

He then asked for a second time, “Who are you looking for?” and they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am He. If you are looking for Me, let these others go.” So what Jesus had said came true : “I have not lost one of those You gave Me.”

Simon Peter had a sword; he drew it and struck Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?”

The guards and the soldiers, with their commander, seized Jesus and bound Him; and they took Him first to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year; and it was Caiaphas who had told the Jews, “It is better that one Man should die for the people.”

Simon Peter with another disciple followed Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the High Priest, they let him enter the courtyard of the High Priest along with Jesus, but Peter had to stay outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out and spoke to the maidservant at the gate and brought Peter in.

Then this maidservant on duty at the door said to Peter, “So you are also one of His disciples?” But he answered, “I am not.”

Now the servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire and were standing and warming themselves, because it was cold. Peter was also with them warming himself.

The High Priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in places where the Jews meet together, either at the assemblies in synagogues or in the Temple. I did not teach secretly. Why then do you question Me? Ask those who heard Me, they know what I said.”

At this reply one of the guards standing there gave Jesus a blow on the face, saying, “Is that the way to answer the High Priest?” Jesus said to him, “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?”

Then Annas sent Him, bound, to Caiaphas, the High Priest. Now Simon Peter stood there warming himself. They said to him, “Surely you also are one of His disciples.” He denied it, and answered, “I am not.” One of the High Priest’s servants, a kinsman of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you with Him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at once the cock crowed.

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. It was now morning. The Jews did not go inside, lest they be made unclean by entering the house of a pagan, and therefore not allowed to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate came out and asked, “What charge do you bring against this Man?”

They answered, “If He were not a criminal, we would not be handing Him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your own law.” But they replied, “We ourselves are not allowed to put anyone to death.”

It was clear from this what kind of death Jesus was to die, according to what Jesus Himself had foretold. Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?”

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed You over to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My Kingship does not come from this world. If I were a king, like those of this world, My guards would have fought to save Me from being handed over to the Jews. But. My Kingship is not of this world.”

Pilate asked Him, “So You are a King?” And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears My voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Pilate then went out to the Jews again and said, “I find no crime in this Man. Now, according to custom, I must release a prisoner to you at the Passover. With your agreement I will release to you the king of the Jews.” But they insisted and cried out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers also twisted thorns into a crown and put it on His head. They threw a cloak of royal purple around His shoulders; and they began coming up to Him and saluting Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him on the face.

Pilate went outside yet another time and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing Him out, and I want you to know that I find no crime in Him.” Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak, and Pilate pointed to Him, saying, “Here is the Man!”

On seeing Him the chief priests and the guards cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Take Him yourselves and have Him crucified, for I find no case against Him.”

The Jews then said, “We have a Law, and according to the Law this Man must die because He made Himself Son of God.” When Pilate heard this he was more afraid. And coming back into the court he asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to me? Do You know that I have power to release you, just as I have power to crucify You?”

Jesus replied, “You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed Me over to you is more guilty.” From that moment Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who makes himself a king is defying Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he had Jesus brought outside to the place called the Stone Floor – in Hebrew – Gabbatha – and sat down in the judgment seat. It was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your King.” But they cried out, “Away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Shall I crucify your King?” And the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. They took charge of Him. Bearing His own cross, Jesus went out of the city to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew Golgotha. There He was crucified, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read : Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews. Many Jewish people saw this title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was very close to the city; and the title was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

The chief priests said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews’; but, ‘This Man claimed to be King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered them, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each of them. But as the tunic was woven in one piece from top to bottom, they said, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots to decide who will get it.”

This fulfilled the words of Scripture : They divided My clothing among them; they cast lots for My garment. This was what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfill what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away.

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and water.

The one who saw it, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfill the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea approached Pilate, for he was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, for fear of the Jews. And he asked Pilate to let him remove the Body of Jesus. Pilate agreed, so he came and took away the Body.

Nicodemus, the man who at first had come to Jesus by night, also came and brought a jar of myrrh mixed with aloes, about a hundred pounds. They took the Body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, following the burial customs of the Jews.

There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And therefore, because the sepulchre was nearby, and the Jewish day of preparation was coming to a close, they placed the Body of Jesus there.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast in the Church, that is the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, when our Lord is transformed into His true divine nature on top of the mountain, and seen by the disciples Peter, James, and John, together with Moses and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets of God.

Yes, Christ our Lord and Saviour is indeed our God and divine in His nature, and He, through His birth by our Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, is also human in nature, the Word of God made flesh and man by the power of the Holy Spirit that reside within the womb of Mary. He is in His nature, fully and completely divine as well as fully and completely human at the same time, separate yet one, one in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yes, our Lord is human, and He has human emotions as well, the love and compassion He has for all of us. He was overwhelmed with sorrow when Lazarus, His beloved friend died and when He witnessed the sorrow of his sisters, Martha and Mary. He showed compassion to the people gathered to listen to His sermons and speeches when they were hungry and without food. He showed compassion and love to the widows and people with afflictions and showed to all of them His great love.

Yet He is also fully divine, the Son of God, who revealed the fullness of His glory to the three of His disciples on the mountain, an occasion which we celebrate today as the Transfiguration. He revealed the truth about Himself and the truth about His power and glory to the three disciples, showing that He is not a mere human, neither is He merely another of the prophets, nor is He merely a liar. Yes, He is the divine Son of God, the Word of God made flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the Blessed Virgin Mary, was made man, fully human, as the Son of Man.

Then, what is the significance of Moses and Elijah appearing to Jesus on the mountain during His Transfiguration and speaking to Him about His death? The significance is that Jesus is the perfect embodiment of what Moses and Elijah each had embodied, as the greatest of the servants the Lord had sent into this world. Moses embodied the Law of God, the commandments and precepts He had given to His people to follow, while Elijah embodied the teaching authority of the prophets granted by the Lord. Jesus, as the Word of God made flesh is the greatest of all the prophets, delivering directly God’s will and message to mankind, and He also perfectly fulfilled all the prophecies the prophets had told about Him, the awaited Messiah, the awaited Saviour of all men.

In Jesus Christ lie our salvation, the perfection of the Law God had granted us, that is the commandments of love, through His explanation and His revelation on the truth about God and His laws, as well as the fulfillment of the prophecies and the teachings of the prophets in all its perfection. All of these, through His birth, His life, His works and ministries, and finally completed with His suffering and death on the cross, that cross on Calvary, and all are completed, just as He said “It is completed.” Yes, the completion of the grand plan on salvation God had prepared for all of us, that we can finally escape the slavery under sin, into freedom of eternal life in God.

However, to reach there, and to complete the plan, Christ had to bear our sins and our faults, as the sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God who bared Himself for us, in our place, and suffer instead of us. For we deserve to be punished severely for our sins, and not just any sins, but the persistence and the heaviness of our sins and evils that we have committed since the days of Adam and Eve our ancestors. Our Lord Jesus is without sin and pure, although He is indeed fully human like us, and yet He was made to bear our sins and our punishment in our place, that we will not suffer and experience death allotted to us for our rebelliousness, but instead have a new hope of eternal life and bliss.

He has to suffer, drink the cup of bitterness that God had given Him to drink, and die a prisoner’s death, a criminal’s death on the cross, judged by a Roman governor, condemned by His own people, scourged with lashes and crooks, and pierced by nails and elevated high between the heaven and the earth, all for our sake. Yet, He came down from that mountain where He showed His glory to His disciples, from the place where He manifested Himself as the great and glorious God, into His suffering and Passion, on the way to Jerusalem to die.

The disciples did not understand this, nor why did Christ do so, and what they wanted was that they remain in that wonderful place, in the fullness of the glory of God, that is because they have tasted heaven on earth on that mountain, and certainly they did not want to leave that feeling behind, that happiness and joy being in the glory and perfection of the Lord. That was why Peter suggested to Jesus to build three tents for Himself, for Moses, and for Elijah.

Christ could simply choose to stay there at the place for eternity, because indeed, He is God, and everything is within His power to do. He can remain forever in His great glory, and He did not have to face suffering, rejection, pain, and death. However, Christ knew what must be done, and despite the vast extent of suffering that He must go through in order to save us from our own destruction, His love for us is so great, that He is willing to go through all that, for our sake. He left His comfort zone, that He can exercise what He had come to this world for, that is to be our Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate today this great feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us take some time to reflect on ourselves, on our own actions and deeds. Have we overcome our fear of what is outside our comfort zone, and dared to take a step outside that comfort zone, so that we can make use of whatever gifts and talents God had given us, in order to bring love, comfort, and happiness to one another? Or have we chosen to be like the disciples, who prefer to remain in their comfort zone forever?

Brothers and sisters, to follow Christ means to take up our crosses and follow Him, through difficulties and oppositions that will surely face us in this uphill battle we have to reach our salvation in Christ. It does not mean that we should all suffer or die the same way that Christ had suffered or died for our sake, but certainly it means that it will not be easy either. We have to go the extra mile brothers and sisters, in our service and dedication to the people of God, especially those who are poor, in material and in spirit, and those who lack love in them, those who are unloved and forsaken.

Just as Christ chose to go down from the mountain and face His suffering to come proudly and courageously, we too should follow the example Christ had given us, going down that mountain, and gladly make ourselves available to others, sharing our love with them, bearing one another’s crosses on the way to God and His salvation. Let us be courageous to go an extra mile, stepping outside our comfort zone in our service to God and His people.

Do not fear, brothers and sisters in Christ! For the Lord Transfigured on the mountain and glorified in His might will always be with us, and He will bless us tremendously if we follow in His footsteps, carrying our crosses, in our journey, sharing the love and the Spirit He had given to all of us who have faith in Him with one another. May the Lord Jesus Transfigured bless all of us and our endeavours, and remain with us forever. Amen.

Thursday, 16 May 2013 : 7th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 22 : 30 and Acts 23 : 6-11

The next day the commander wanted to know for certain the charges the Jews were making against Paul. So he released him from prison and called together the High Priest and the whole Council; and they brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul knew that part of the Council were Sadducees and others Pharisees; so he spoke out in the Council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, son of a Pharisee. It is for the hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial here.”

At these words, an argument broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the whole assembly was divided. For the Sadducees claim that there is neither resurrection, nor angels nor spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all these things.

Then the shouting grew louder, and some teachers of the Law of the Pharisee party protested, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Maybe a spirit or an angel has spoken to him.” With this the argument became so violent that the commander feared that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He therefore ordered the soldiers to go down and rescue him from their midst and take him back to the fortress.

That night the Lord stood by Paul and said, “Courage! As you have borne witness to Me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome.”

(Good Friday) Friday, 29 March 2013 : Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

John 18 : 1 – John 19 : 42

When Jesus had finished speaking, He went with His disciples to the other side of the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there, which Jesus entered with His disciples.

Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, since Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas took soldiers and some servants from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they went to the garden with lanterns, torches, and weapons.

Jesus knew all that was going to happen to Him; He stepped forward and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus said, “I am He.” Judas, who betrayed Him, stood there with them.

When Jesus said, “I am He,” they moved back and fell to the ground. He then asked a second time, “Who are you looking for?” and they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am He. If you are looking for Me, let these others go.” So what Jesus had said came true : “I have not lost one of those You gave Me.”

Simon Peter had a sword; he drew it and struck Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?”

The guards and the soldiers, with their commander, seized Jesus and bound Him; and they took Him first to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year; and it was Caiaphas who had told the Jews, “It is better than one Man should die for the people.”

Simon Peter with another disciple followed Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the High Priest, they let him enter the courtyard of the High Priest along with Jesus, but Peter had to stay outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out and spoke to the maidservant at the gate and brought Peter in.

Then this maidservant on duty at the door said to Peter, “So you also are one of His disciples?” But he answered, “I am not.” Now the servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire and were standing and warming themselves, because it was cold. Peter was also with them warming himself.

The High Priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered Him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in places where the Jews meet together, either at the assemblies in synagogues or in the Temple. I did not teach secretly. Why then do you question Me? Ask those who heard Me, they know what I said.”

At this reply, one of the guards standing there gave Jesus a blow on the face, saying, “Is that the way to answer the High Priest?” Jesus said to him, “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?”

Then Annas sent Him, bound, to Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Now Simon Peter stood there warming himself. They said to him, “Surely you also are one of His disciples.” He denied it, and answered, “I am not.” One of the High Priest’s servants, a kinsman of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you with Him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at once the cock crowed.

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. It was now morning. The Jews did not go inside, lest they be made unclean by entering the house of a pagan, and therefore not allowed to at the Passover meal. So Pilate came out and asked, “What charge do you bring against this Man?”

They answered, “If He were not a criminal, we would not be handing Him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your own Law.” But they replied, “We ourselves are not allowed to put anyone to death.”

It was clear from this what kind of death Jesus was to die, according to what Jesus Himself had foretold. Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?”

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed You over to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship does not come from this world. If I were a king, like those of this world, My guards would have fought to save Me from being handed over to the Jews. But My kingship is not of this world.”

Pilate asked Him, “So You are a king?” And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears My voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Pilate then went out to the Jews again and said, “I find no crime in this Man. Now, according to custom, I must release a prisoner to you at the Passover. With your agreement, I will release to you the king of the Jews.” But they insisted and cried out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers also twisted thorns into a crown and put it on His head. They threw a cloak of royal purple around His shoulders; and they began coming up to Him and saluting Him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” and they struck Him on the face.

Pilate went outside yet another time and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing Him out, and I want you to know that I find no crime in Him.” Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak, and Pilate pointed to Him, saying, “Here is the Man!”

On seeing Him the chief priests and the guards cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Take Him yourselves and have Him crucified, for I find no case against Him.” The Jews then said, “We have a Law, and according to the law this Man must die because He made Himself Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, He was more afraid. And coming back to the court he asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to Me? Do you not know that I have power to release You, just as I have power to crucify You?”

Jesus replied, “You would have no power over Me, unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed Me over to You is more guilty.”

From that moment, Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who makes Himself a king is defying Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he had Jesus brought outside to the place called the Stone Floor – in Hebrew Gabbatha – and sat down in the judgment seat. It was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king.” But they cried out, “Away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Shall I crucify your king?” And the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. They took charge of Him. Bearing His own cross, Jesus went out of the city to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew Golgotha. There He was crucified, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read : “Jesus the Nazarean, the king of the Jews.” Many Jewish people saw this title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was very close to the city; and the title was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The chief priests said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews’; but, ‘This Man claimed to be king of the Jews.'” Pilate answered them, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each of them. But as the tunic was woven in one piece from top to bottom, they said, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots to decide who will get it.” This fulfilled the words of Scripture : They divided My clothing among them; they cast lots for My garment. This was what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” And from that moment, the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished, and in order to fulfill what was written in Scripture, He said, ‘I am thirsty’. A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.

The one who saw it, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfill the words of Scripture : ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.’ Another text says : ‘They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.’ After this, Joseph of Arimathea approached Pilate, for he was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, for fear of the Jews. And he asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate agreed, so he came and took away the body.

Nicodemus, the man who at first had come to Jesus by night, also came and brought a jar of myrrh mixed with aloes, about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, following the burial customs of the Jews. There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And therefore, because the sepulchre was nearby, and the Jewish day of preparation was coming to a close, they placed the body of Jesus there.