Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Statues and paintings have done their part. So too for the movies, which have given us Hollywood’s various versions of the Passion of Christ. That last includes Mel Gibson’s version of a few years ago. For the sake of transparency, I must admit that when it came to the scene of the scourging of the Lord in that film, I broke down in tears, averted my eyes from the screen for some moments. I also found myself making a spontaneous Act of Contrition. Yes, I was grateful for the darkened theater and the absence of a crowd for the matinee showing. I had time to
compose myself before the house lights came on.
As I reflected on that powerful experience, I know it sprang from my belief in the fact that my sins ultimately caused that brutal horror. Ever since, I know that I cannot hide, nor can any of us hide behind a glib recitation of the second Sorrowful Mystery. The realistic sights and sounds of it offered by that movie, depicting the devastation wrought upon the Savior’s sacred Body, endured for our sake, is enough to thaw the coldest of hearts.
Of course, we believers know that besides redeeming us from our sins, Jesus underwent this cruelty out of His loving obedience to His Father coupled with His unfathomable love for all of us.
I’m not particularly fond of that word “wretch” that appears in the hymn “Amazing Grace.” It seems to me despairing. But I have to admit that when the focus is on the Lord’s Passion, that’s exactly what we all are: wretches. But praise God we don’t remain such in His eyes. We have the everlasting comfort of knowing that the story doesn’t end with Good Friday.
Such thoughts easily come to my mind on reading or hearing St. Luke’s version of the Jesus story, from Christmas to Calvary and beyond. Luke’s boyhood studies, combined with his medical training and his eye for detail as he recounts what he was told, together cause me to rank his gospel as my favorite. His gospel has been labeled the “Gospel of Mercy.” Who among us doesn’t need that?
Here is a telling opinion about Luke’s gospel from author Elizabeth Scalia, the Editor-at-Large for Word on Fire Catholic Ministries:
The great strength of Luke’s Gospel, as with Acts, is how accessibly, rationally, and convincingly he presents a narrative that must necessarily challenge, even defy, reason. In comparison with the other Gospel writers, Luke is the one who gives us a distinct, richly detailed account of the ongoing interplay between God and humanity, heaven and earth—one that we can and do believe because for this Gospel in particular, belief is grounded in plausible and subtle human reactions and responses.”
God love you and have a beneficial Holy Week.
Reading I: Isaiah 50: 4-7: Like the prophets before him, the Suffering Servant is ignored and badly treated. Having a “face like flint” is a very effective description here because it includes the defacing spittle upon it.
Reading II: Philippians 2: 6-11: This ancient hymn Paul uses to exhort selflessness among the believers in the place. The hymn has its special beauty and emotional tug.
The Gospel of the Passion: Luke 22: 14 – 23: 56: Opening with the institution of the Eucharist, Luke’s Passion account includes details galore, but above all the rejection of Jesus by the people in His crucifixion. The story ends with a kingly kind of burial.