FRIDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (Good Friday),
ST ALPHEGE (954 – 1012)
He was bishop of Winchester and then Archbishop of Canterbury. At the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1011, Alphege was captured, imprisoned and later killed in 1012.
Remember your mercies, O Lord, and with your eternal protection sanctify your servants, for whom Christ your Son, by the shedding of his Blood, established the Paschal Mystery. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
First reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
See, my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights. As the crowds were appalled on seeing him – so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human – so will the crowds be astonished at him, and kings stand speechless before him; for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before: ‘Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’ Like a sapling he grew up in front of us, like a root in arid ground. Without beauty, without majesty we saw him, no looks to attract our eyes; a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces; he was despised and we took no account of him. And yet ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried. But we, we thought of him as someone punished, struck by God, and brought low. Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and the Lord burdened him with the sins of all of us. Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth. By force and by law he was taken; would anyone plead his cause? Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living; for our faults struck down in death. They gave him a grave with the wicked, a tomb with the rich, though he had done no wrong and there had been no perjury in his mouth. The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering. If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done. His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light and be content. By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself. Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute, he shall divide the spoil with the mighty, for surrendering himself to death and letting himself be taken for a sinner, while he was bearing the faults of many and praying all the time for sinners.
Psalm 30 (31):2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
R) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
1) In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me never be put to shame. In your justice, set me free, Into your hands I commend my spirit. It is you who will redeem me, Lord.
2) In the face of all my foes I am a reproach, an object of scorn to my neighbours and of fear to my friends.
3) Those who see me in the street run far away from me. I am like a dead man, forgotten in men’s hearts, like a thing thrown away.
4)But as for me, I trust in you, Lord; I say: ‘You are my God. My life is in your hands, deliver me from the hands of those who hate me.
5) Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your love.’ Be strong, let your heart take courage, all who hope in the Lord.
Second reading: Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9
Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help. During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.
Gospel Acclamation: Phil 2:8-9
Glory and praise to you, O Christ! Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names. Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
Gospel: John 18:1-19:42
Key:N.Narrator. Jesus. O.Other single speaker. C.Crowd, or more than one speaker.
N.Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said, Who are you looking for? N.They answered, C.Jesus the Nazarene. N. He said, I am he. N.Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time, Who are you looking for?N.They said, C.Jesus the Nazarene. N.Jesus replied, I have told you that I am he. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go. N.This was to fulfil the words he had spoken, ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost.’ Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me? N.The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people.’ Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter, O.Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples? N.He answered, O.I am not. N.Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others. The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret. But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said. N.At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying, O.Is that the way to answer the high priest? N.Jesus replied, If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offence in it, why do you strike me? N.Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest. As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him, O.Aren’t you another of his disciples? N.He denied it, saying, O. I am not. N.One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, O.Didn’t I see you in the garden with him? N.Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew. They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves or they would be defiled and unable to eat the passover. So Pilate came outside to them and said, O.What charge do you bring against this man? N.They replied, C.If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you. N.Pilate said, O.Take him yourselves, and try him by your own Law. N.The Jews answered, C.We are not allowed to put a man to death. N.This was to fulfil the words Jesus had spoken indicating the way he was going to die. So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him, and asked, O.Are you the king of the Jews? N.Jesus replied, Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me? N.Pilate answered, O.Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done? N.Jesus replied, Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind. N.Pilate said, O.So you are a king, then? N.Jesus answered, It is you who say it. Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice. N. Pilate said, O.Truth? What is that? N.and with that he went out again to the Jews and said, O.I find no case against him. But according to a custom of yours I should release one prisoner at the Passover; would you like me, then, to release the king of the Jews? N.At this they shouted: C.Not this man, but Barabbas. N.Barabbas was a brigand. Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying, C.Hail, king of the Jews! N.and they slapped him in the face. Pilate came outside again and said to them, O. Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case. N.Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said, O.Here is the man. N.When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted, C.Crucify him! Crucify him! N.Pilate said, O.Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him. N.The Jews replied, C.We have a Law, and according to that Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God. N. When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus O.Where do you come from? N.But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him, O.Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you? N.Jesus replied, You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt. N.From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted, C.If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar. N.Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. Pilate said to the Jews, O.Here is your king. N.They said, C.Take him away, take him away! Crucify him! N.Pilate said, O. Do you want me to crucify your king? N. The chief priests answered, C.We have no king except Caesar. N. So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.’ This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate, C.You should not write ‘King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said: “I am King of the Jews.”’ N.Pilate answered, O.What I have written, I have written. N.When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, C.Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it. N.In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled: They shared out my clothing among them. They cast lots for my clothes. This is exactly what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, Woman, this is your son. N. Then to the disciple he said, This is your mother. N. And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home. After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said: I am thirsty. N.A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said, It is accomplished; N.and bowing his head he gave up his spirit.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture: Not one bone of his will be broken and again, in another place scripture says: They will look on the one whom they have pierced. After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus – though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time – and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Prayer after Communion
Almighty ever-living God, who have restored us to life by the blessed Death and Resurrection of your Christ, preserve in us the work of your mercy, that, by partaking of this mystery, we may have a life unceasingly devoted to you. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer over the People
May abundant blessing, O Lord, we pray, descend upon your people, who have honoured the Death of your Son in the hope of their resurrection: may pardon come, comfort be given, holy faith increase, and everlasting redemption be made secure. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The death of Jesus on this holy day is the summit of the Pascal mystery. The Word remains suspended on the cross; it is delivered in suffering and tears. Men have seen what it cost Jesus to obtain their redemption. Because of his death, salvation is now within our reach. Obedience to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is what can enable us to enter the new covenant of peace and love which Jesus established by his death. Jesus was disfigured by the ugliness of our sins and the misery of our lies. May our hearts reach Him, our Lord and our God. Let us not remain insensitive to the suffering of humanity, which is struggling under the weight of injustice and wars. May the Lord Jesus free us by his blood and his suffering on the cross at Golgotha.