Good Friday | Gospel Reflection
On Good Friday, we commemorate the death of Jesus in part by reading the Passion according to John. If you have attended the Good Friday liturgy before, then you probably recall participating in the proclamation of the Gospel as the crowd, just as you did in a different Passion account on Palm Sunday. Today, we will focus on just a few verses of John’s Passion: the final moments of Jesus on the cross.
At the beginning of this passage, we see the small group of people who have stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross to accompany him in his suffering. All but one of the disciples have abandoned Jesus. Only Mary, the beloved disciple, and a few other women stay with Jesus at this most trying moment of his life. We can learn something important by looking at how Jesus spends his last moments. Knowing that the end is near, he takes specific actions to carry out the Father’s will.
First, he entrusts Mary to the beloved disciple. Because of his unique love for his mother, the Blessed Virgin, he would never leave her defenseless. Since Jesus honored his mother and cared for her so deeply (especially as one of his last actions), we, too must honor Mary in same way that Jesus called his disciple to do.
After providing for Mary’s needs, Jesus speaks a phrase that, in addition to fulfilling the Scripture, has inspired countless vocations: “I thirst.” In this passage, Jesus’ physical need is met by a sip of wine—the same substance that was the subject of his first miracle, and the same substance that becomes his Blood of the New Covenant. In the Church’s long history, many Christians have seen Jesus’ thirst as more than just physical, however. They understand that he thirsts for souls—those very souls that God created and has never stopped loving. We, his followers, can slake his thirst by bringing his children back to him.
Finally, having perfectly completed all that the Father sent him to do, Jesus dies. In John’s Gospel, we see that death is not just something that happens to Jesus. It, too, is an active decision of love and obedience: “he handed over the spirit.” When he died on the cross, Jesus gave a total gift of himself for us with more love than we could ever imagine.
The most beautiful response we can give to Jesus’ extraordinary gift is to accept it and to try to live our own lives with his same love. Today, I pray that we may join Jesus spiritually at the foot of the cross and never abandon the Savior who gave himself perfectly for us.