Grace: To have sorrow, compassion, and shame because the Lord is going to His suffering for my sins.
Reflection: For all the portrayals of the Passions as a violent blood-fest, it was not primarily a test of Jesus’ endurance. It was a sacrifice which only Jesus could make. As He sat in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, this was something He must have been thinking of. The angels could minister to Him, the Father could comfort Him, but only He could carry out this task. Peter, James, and John were fast asleep as He prayed and waited for Judas. Jesus was totally alone.
Then Judas arrives with a group of Roman soldiers. Jesus now goes through an experience many of us know: betrayal by someone we love. After the initial sadness, sometimes we can lessen the pain by saying something like “He was a jerk anyway.” But Jesus never stopped loving Judas, and the pain He felt from the betrayal is only heightened by His knowledge of what this betrayal will do to Judas, and how this will destroy him.
After Judas betrays Jesus, and He is arrested, the Apostles run in fear and abandon Jesus. Mark says that “they all deserted Him and ran away. A young man followed with nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the cloth in their hands and ran away naked” (Mk. 14:50-52). Absolutely nothing would keep the man with Jesus; he was so afraid that he left behind the only thing he had on to escape Jesus’ fate. Jesus was alone, Judas had betrayed Him, and now everyone who loved Him or followed Him has abandoned Him.
Then Jesus was made to walk in shame to the house of Annas. It is something we see in the news all the time: the so-called “perp walk”. His hands are bound behind Him, the soldiers force Him to walk at the point of a sword, and everyone who sees Him thinks this is a criminal. We have all experienced shame. When we do something wrong and recognize it (sometimes only after getting caught) we feel shame. Jesus undergoes and accepts this shame and humiliation for what He has done right.
When Jesus testifies to Who He is, they further shame Him, falsely accusing Him of blasphemy. The guards spit on Him and mock the fact that He is a prophet. As Jesus stands in the court and later spends the night in prison, He is repeatedly subjected to the humiliating abuse reserved for dishonorable criminals.
Finally, on top of the shame and cruelty that Jesus suffered, there was Peter’s denial of Him. The Lord trusts Peter greatly and shares experiences with Peter that He shares with few others. When Peter approaches a fire to keep Himself warm, he is challenged as being a follower of Jesus. Without hesitation Peter denies even knowing Jesus. Not only does he deny it once, but three times. Right at the third denial “the cock crowed, and the Lord turned at looked straight at Peter” (Lk. 22:60-61). Along with all the other things that Jesus had to suffer, He watched as one of His closest friends denied even knowing Him.
Alone, betrayed, shamed, cruelly treated, and denied, Jesus walks from the Garden to the Cross.
Questions: St. Ignatius says that all throughout the Passion, Jesus’ divinity “hides itself; for example, it could destroy its enemies and does not do so, but leaves the most sacred humanity to suffer so cruelly” (SpEx 196). Why does He do this? How should you respond to this? How should this impact your daily life?