Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord Jesus has risen in glory! As the time of Easter finally comes, we celebrate after the long wait and expectation during the season of Lent, because we have had true joy in Christ, Our Lord and Saviour by all that He has done for us. He has released us from the tyranny of sin and the bondage of death, and showed us all the path to eternal life.

On this day Christ showed His power and might, revealing His victory over even sin and death, two things that have kept us under their dominion all these while. He has fulfilled completely all that the Lord has promised His people from the beginning of time, their liberation and reconciliation, which He has done by His loving sacrifice on the cross, and bringing the souls of the faithful to God, their loving Father and Creator.

On this day, the despair of man gives way to hope, as the veil of darkness that have blinded and surrounded us all these while has been pierced by the Light that Christ has brought into our midst. He renewed us and made our existence meaningful again by His Passion, His suffering, death on the cross and ultimately, His resurrection from the dead. He is in fact showing all of us the glory that is to come, if we remain steadfast in our faith and love for Him.

As we enter into this holy and blessed season of Easter, it is therefore important that we understand its significance and also what is expected of us all as Christians, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. We must remember that the celebration of Easter does not last just for this day only, as the liturgical celebration of the Easter season lasts for a total of fifty days until the Solemnity of the Pentecost.

But even more importantly, we must also realise that the celebration of Easter does not also last just until Pentecost Sunday, but also through the rest of the days of our life. It means that the spirit and celebration of Easter must extend so completely and pervades so well into our lives that we exhibit that spirit of Easter, that joy and passion to live out our calling as Christians at every moments of our respective lives.

The most important aspect of Easter that we must realise is one of transformation of our lives. Through Easter, by Our Lord’s resurrection, and earlier on through His suffering and death, God has united us all to Himself, and we have been called to share in His suffering and death, to endure the pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties of denying our own selves, our prideful, our egoistic, our greedy, our lustful and our sinful selves, and embrace the new existence in Christ.

It is not easy to change ourselves, and to resist the many temptations of this world that are ever present and ever pervasive around us. And we will indeed face many opposition, hurdles and obstacles, rejection and refusal even from those whom we deem to be close to us and dear to us. And it will be difficult and challenging for us to endure the physical, mental and even spiritual sufferings of committing ourselves to the way of the Lord.

It is because Satan, that is the devil and all of his allies, the forces of darkness, are unwilling to let us go away into our freedom. They will do whatever is within their power, in order to tempt us, to persuade us, and even to force and pressure us into bowing once again to sin. They were once our slavemasters, as they enslaved us through sin, and they wanted nothing less than our own ruin and downfall.

But the Lord is always with us, even when we do not realise it. Even in the moments of our greatest sufferings and pain, we must remember that Christ, Who Himself has endured suffering and pain far greater than any one of us have ever suffered, as He bore down the enormous weight of the cross of our sins, is by our side and He will not abandon us to those who seek our destruction and annihilation.

In the Gospel passage often used for the Evening Mass of Easter Sunday today, we heard the famous story of the encounter between the Lord and the two disciples who were on their way to the neighbouring town of Emmaus showed us, that the Lord is always there to encourage us and to give us strength, and a lot of times we did not even know that He was there, just as the two disciples did not recognise Jesus even as He was walking with them. They only recognised Him when He broke the bread before them and their eyes and minds were opened.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these and having spent some time discussing about what Easter truly means and how it is filled with joy that each and every one of us must carry on in our own lives, now we should reflect on how we can follow the examples of the Apostles and the followers of the Lord, who carried with them the knowledge and witness of the Lord’s truth, His Passion, death and resurrection.

We heard how in our first reading today, St. Peter the Apostle was very passionate and spirited in his testimony of faith before the people, and this was made when he went to the house of Cornelius, a Roman who became a believer of Jesus and His truth, and by the testimony of faith which St. Peter spoke before him and his family, they all became firmer in their conviction of faith, and the Holy Spirit Himself came down upon all of them, encouraging them and strengthening them in their commitment and faith.

And this represents what we all need to do as Christians, in how we live out our lives with faith, in how we dedicate ourselves as the witnesses and as the bearers of God’s truth as presented in the wholeness of our Christian faith and teachings. Each and every one of us must be bearers of God’s truth and dedicate ourselves to live up to our faith in our daily living, so that all of those who see us and all that we do, will recognise the presence of God in our midst, for through our actions, filled with faith and love for God, God Himself will be present in our midst through them.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how do we then carry on with our lives from now on as Christians? It means that first of all, we must have the resolve to live our lives with righteousness and dedication to God, we must keep away from ourselves all actions and thoughts, all things that lead us to sin and disobedience against God. We must be role models of faith for our fellow brethren, and show in us, the Light of God as He has revealed to us this Easter.

And then, we should also have that firm hope in the Lord and strong trust in Him, knowing that He is always there with us, even when at times it may be difficult for us to feel and to know of His presence. That is why we often need to spend more time with God, as many of us are frequently distracted by numerous worldly temptations and pressures, that prevented us from truly being able to know God’s presence in our midst.

We need to deepen our relationship with God, by spending more time with God in prayer. And when we pray, we are actually opening up our minds, hearts and senses to be more attuned with God, and that is when, we will be better able to sense God’s presence in our midst, and thus, we will remain close to Him no matter whatever troubles and challenges we may face in life. And by our faith, many more will come to believe in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this joyous and blessed season of Easter, let us all no longer despair or be doubtful, for God Himself has shown His faithfulness through the cross, and by His resurrection He has shown us the path forward towards eternal life. Let us all be ever closer to God and realise that He is always with us, guiding us along the journey of our lives.

Let us all turn wholeheartedly towards Him from now on, and be truly filled with the spirit of Easter joy, that we may be committed to share this joy with one another, especially with those who are doubting, those who are unsure about their faith, and those who are faltering in their dedication to God. And let us also bring the light of Christ to more people, to all those who are still enslaved by sin and by the darkness of this world. May the Risen Lord bless us and all of our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 1-4

So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, reveals Himself, you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.

Alternative reading

1 Corinthians 5 : 6b-8

Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out, then, the old yeast and be new dough. If Christ became our Passover, you should be unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast, which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread, that is purity and sincerity.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab-17, 22-23

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done.

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34a, 37-43

Peter then spoke to them, “No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power.”

“He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.”

But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death. And He commanded hs to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Sunday, 14 April 2019 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after going through five weeks and more of the season of Lent, a time of preparation and rediscovery of our faith, we finally come to the beginning of the Holy Week, when we celebrate the most important moments and mysteries of our faith, commemorating that very moment when salvation came into our midst, through none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of all.

Christ was the Saviour promised by God to all His people, the culmination of the grand plan He has revealed to man, ever since the beginning of time, when man first fell into sin and because of that, sundered from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And God fulfilled His promises perfectly and completely in Christ, the One He sent into this world, bringing the salvation and true hope into our midst, that we may all be saved.

And this Holy Week, we enter into the most crucial moment in all the history of the whole world and our whole existence, the moment when God completed His plan of salvation, by none other than the Passion, suffering and death of His own Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. And on this Palm Sunday, the day that marks the beginning of Holy Week, we enter and immerse ourselves into the very important events that mark that moment of our salvation through Christ.

On this day, we heard from the readings of the Scripture, two very opposing and contradictory accounts, of what happened on the actual day when the Lord Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem in glory, which we commemorate with the blessing of palms and procession on this day, with the account of the suffering and death, the crucifixion of the same Lord Jesus on the cross, which happened just merely a few days apart.

In the Gospel passage which related to us what happened when the Lord Jesus came to Jerusalem for the time of the Passover, we heard how the people gathered to welcome the Lord Jesus as if He was a glorious and conquering King, entering the city of His reign, with palms raised and garments spread along the way on which He would enter on a donkey, as prophesied by the prophets. This event reminded us all that indeed, Jesus Christ is our Lord and King, the One Who has been promised to us, as our one and true Master.

But His kingship is not like any other kingship. He Himself mentioned on a few occasions throughout the accounts of the Gospels on the events of the Holy Week. He mentioned before His disciples, when they wanted to defend Him as He was being betrayed by Judas Iscariot and was about to be arrested, that had His heavenly Father wished it, He could have sent legions of Angels to protect Him. And before Pilate, Jesus Himself said that His kingdom was not of this world.

And this is why, many of the people abandoned Him, betrayed Him and rejected Him. And do we all realise that it was the very same people who welcomed, praised, glorified and sung ‘Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!’ that just a few days later cried out before Pilate, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ and ‘We have no king but Caesar?’. This is because many among them did not have true faith in God, but were following their own selfish, wicked and sinful desires.

Some certainly followed the Lord to be famous, while others misunderstood and thought of Christ and His kingdom as one like of this world, and therefore, hoped to gain popularity, power, prestige, and all sorts of other worldly recognitions and pleasures, as what two of His own disciples showed us, when St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee came up to Him with their mother asking for special favours over that of the other disciples.

And the others had various other reasons, many of whom were motivated by the desire of self-advancement, self-praise, self-gratification and other forms of worldly desires, that indeed quickly turned from one of apparent faith and dedication, into one of betrayal, as Judas did, and into apathy and lack of conviction to defend their faith, as what many of the people did, easily following the popular sentiment, of what was first the popularity of Christ in acclaiming Him as King and then condemning Him when the tide of events turned against Him.

Even Christ’s own disciples fled in fear and abandoned Him. And in the accounts, we heard how this King of ours, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, turned from complete glory into utter humiliation, that He was not just stripped from His dignity as even a human person, but even treated in the worst manner possible, and made to suffer the worst of the worst of injustices and treated as the worst and lowliest of criminals for sins and mistakes He did not commit.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, before we continue further, we ought to spend some time now to reflect on our own lives, on our own actions, on our own faith in God, on our own way of following the Lord and how we have lived our faith life all these while, especially as Christians, as those who profess to have faith in God. And we ought to remember that we are truly perhaps, just as terrible as those same people whom we just talked about earlier, all those who betrayed, abandoned and left the Lord behind for our own selfish desires, gain and purposes.

Many of us seek the Lord only to feel good and high, and perhaps seeking that spiritual satisfaction and fulfilment, or any other means to satisfy ourselves and to make ourselves feel good. And we often only remember the Lord when we have a vested interest, a desire that we want Him to fulfil, in our wishes and prayers, that when all those things have been fulfilled, or in the case when they were not fulfilled, we left the Lord behind and abandoned Him.

Many of us live our Christian life in most un-Christian like manner. Many of us only thought of fulfilling the barest minimum of our obligations as Christians, in coming for and attending the celebrations of the Holy Mass every Sundays of the year, and not more than that. And in this case, many of us even struggled to fulfil this barest minimum of what the Lord has called us all to do. We only hoped and wished what was best for ourselves, and not wanting to make the sacrifices for the Lord.

And even though we call ourselves Christians, how many of us continue to do what is wicked, sinful and unbecoming of ourselves as Christians? How many of us continue to act in manner that is selfish, greedy, condescending towards others, and being ignorant of the sufferings and troubles that others experience, often because of our own actions? How many of us continue to succumb to the temptations of the flesh and acted immorally, causing scandal within our own families and communities?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the sad and unfortunate reality of our world, and especially our Christian world today. Many of us profess to be faithful to God, and yet, our hearts and minds are not completely attuned and focused on Him. We are still so easily swayed by the many temptations of the world, of desire for power, glory, fame, renown, human praise and the pleasures of the body and mind, that we can easily abandon our faith or not having true faith in God, as how the Israelites and the people at the time of Jesus had done.

Yet, it is to all of us, these delinquents, rebels, stubborn and hardhearted people that Christ has come, to deliver us all from all these attachments to sin and our wickedness. He, Who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, taking up not just the humble appearance of a Man, like us, but even more so, to be humiliated, ridiculed, rejected and made to suffer, enduring the worst of punishments, so that by all of that sacrifice and selfless giving of Himself, He may free us all from our sins and bring us to the salvation He promised us.

Every wounds that had been inflicted on Christ’s body, as He endured all the unimaginably painful suffering throughout the moments of His Passion, are in fact all of our imperfections, mistakes, our sins and rebelliousness, all of our iniquities and faults, all of our refusal to obey the Lord’s will and our selfishness. Every time we sin, we are causing that wound in the Body of Christ to fester and be even more painful, even as He endured it all and bore the burden of our sins on His cross.

Christ, in truth, showed us all, what it truly means for us to be Christians. First of all, all of us must be filled with love, the love for God and the love for our fellow brothers and sisters. It was love for His Father and the love that He has for each and every one of us, even the greatest and most wicked of sinners, that allowed Christ to endure the bitter and terrible pain of His suffering and death on the cross. Without His enduring love and compassion for us, God would not have done everything all the way to suffer death just that all of us may live.

And as Christians, we must be humble, and the greater we are, the humbler we are to be before God and men alike. For Christ Himself said, that He came not to be served, but to serve, and He showed His disciples at the Last Supper, what they ought to be doing to one another, loving one another as brothers and sisters, and to care for each other with true and genuine love. The Lord did not allow pride and ego to be in the way, and just as He rejected Satan’s advances through the temptations he attempted on the Lord, we too should cast aside our own pride and ego.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we journey through the Holy Week, let us all delve deeper into our understanding of our faith and our own relationship with God. If all these while, we have been distant and have not been spending our time with God, because of the many distractions and temptations we faced in life, then now is the perfect opportunity for us all to reorientate ourselves and to rediscover our true purpose in life, not for our own self-glory, but rather, for the greater glory of God.

Let us all grow deeper in our faith and in our conviction and dedication to love the Lord and to serve Him through our actions and deeds in life, that are pleasing to Him. Let us all also follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, carrying our own crosses with Him. He has called us and we should respond to His call. Let us all turn to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our might, and embrace the great love He has for us, that He was willing to suffer and die, just that we may live and not perish.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and may He continue to guide us as we continue to progress through this holiest of all periods and times of this year. May He sow in us all the seeds of faith, hope and love, so that we may grow ever deeper in faith, ever more hopeful in our lives, and be ever more filled with love at all times of our lives. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 14 April 2019 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new Covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you.”

Jesus continued, “Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!” They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.’”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, is it not? Yet I am among you as One Who serves. You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse or a bag must take it, or even his coat, and sell it, and but a sword. For Scripture says : He was numbered among criminals. These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and everything written about Me is now taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But Jesus answered, “That is enough.” After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And from heaven there appeared to Him an Angel, who gave Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when suddenly a crowd appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the High Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus ordered him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, the officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Are you looking for a thief, a robber? Do you really need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light of the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him!”

A little later someone who saw him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” Again Peter denied it : “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about!” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word which the Lord had spoken : “Before the cock crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

Now the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked Him, “Who hit You? Tell us, Prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at Him. At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?”

Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” In chorus they asked, “So You are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.”

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the King.” Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up by His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the Accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked Him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

(At Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner.)

Shouting as one man, the crowd protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder. Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes. When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, arriving from the countryside, and laid the cross on Him, to carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!’ And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?”

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. (Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”) And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Save Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “In truth I tell you, today, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.”

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely, this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts. But those who knew Jesus, and the women who had followed Him from Galilee, remained there at a distance. They witnessed all these things.

Then a member of the Jewish supreme council intervened, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ Body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was the day of preparation and the Sabbath was beginning. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His Body was laid. Returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the King.” Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up by His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the Accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked Him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

(At Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner.)

Shouting as one man, the crowd protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder. Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes. When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, arriving from the countryside, and laid the cross on Him, to carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!’ And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?”

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. (Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”) And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Save Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “In truth I tell you, today, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.”

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely, this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts. But those who knew Jesus, and the women who had followed Him from Galilee, remained there at a distance. They witnessed all these things.