Reconciliation Lectionary: John 19:13-37

mary-the-penitent.jpgThe suffering and death of Jesus from the Passion of Saint John’s Gospel is a single offering in the Reconciliation Lectionary. Let’s read:

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement,
in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover,
and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away!
Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered,
“What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it,
but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “

in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother
and the disciple there whom he loved

he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

My own sense is that the longer the narrative the stronger the association with Holy Week. Using a long passage from the Passion doesn’t seem to be a good idea. I appreciate the focus of Good Friday and its uniqueness in the liturgical year.

John the Evangelist offers such a dramatic whole in his Passion account (all of chapters 18 & 19) that I’m also a skeptic on breaking up the narrative. Still, the twenty-five verses here are not short, nor do they give the whole story.

That leaves the question on how this passage can be used in either form I, reconciliation of a single penitent, or form II, the communal celebration of penance with individual confession and absolution. My instinct suggests it may be powerful as a personal reflection leading into the celebration of the sacrament, or as a possible “act of satisfaction” following absolution.

But if any reader has experienced this in liturgy outside of Good Friday, I’m interested in hearing about it.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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