I. Jesus prays in agony in the Garden

Jesus prays in agony in the Garden

In the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus prays surrendering himself to the Father's will, and to his Passion. "In his anguish, he prays even more earnestly, and his sweat falls to the ground like great drops of blood" (Lk 22:44). His disciples fall asleep: Jesus says, "Have you not the strength to stay awake one hour?"... "The spirit is willing, but human nature is weak." (Mk 14:37b, 38b).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
In times of difficulty, do I turn towards God and ask him to help me, or do I turn away? Is my prayer sincere? For example, when we pray in the Our Father that God will give us our daily bread, do I believe that God will provide for our needs? Am I able to spend an hour with the Blessed Sacrament, can I make time to be with the Lord on a regular basis?


II. Jesus is arrested when Judas betrays him

Jesus is arrested when Judas betrays him

While still in the Garden, Judas appears with soldiers sent by the officials of the Temple. Judas has pre-arranged a signal - a kiss - to let the soldiers know who Jesus is, and to arrest him. Jesus is arrested and one of his followers cuts off an ear of the high priest's servant. "Jesus says, 'Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Or do you think I cannot appeal to my Father, who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence?" (Mt 26:52-53).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I betray God and my friends in my thoughts, words or actions? When I say that I love my friends, do I really mean it? Do I firmly believe that God will help me, or do I trust solely in earthly means?


III. Jesus is accused by the Sanhedrin

Jesus is accused by the Sanhedrin

After his arrest, Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin (a legal Court connected with the Temple that deals in religious matters) who are looking for evidence against him that he is a blasphemer in order to have him executed. But finding none, they turn to false witnesses, whose evidence conflicts with each other. The Sanhedrin ask him: "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" (Mk 14:61b). To which Jesus replies 'I am'. They accuse him of blasphemy and condemn him to death.

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Am I a false witness, do I blur the truth? Am I quick to judge? Am I quick to condemn?


IV. Jesus is denied by Peter

Jesus is denied by Peter

While Jesus is before the Sanhedrin, Peter is in the courtyard below. "One of the high priest's servant-girls came up ... and said, 'You too were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.' But he denied it. 'I do not know, I do not understand what you are talking about,' he said ... and a cock crowed" (Mk 14:66b-68. This happened again and Peter denied knowing Jesus. A third time some bystanders recognised Peter, and again he denies Jesus. The cock crows a second time and Peter recalls what Jesus had said to him: "Before the cock crows twice, you will have disowned me three times." (Mk 14:72b).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I deny God? Do I stand up for my faith and be recognised as a Christian? Do I abandon those in any kind of trouble or distress?


V. Jesus is judged by Pilate

Jesus is judged by Pilate

Pontius Pilate finds no case against Jesus for Blasphemy, so he brings Jesus before the people for the lesser crime of being an agitator. Pilate can find nothing that deserves death, only flogging. As a customary favour, Pilate asks the people who they want freed, Jesus or Barabbas (a revolutionary). Because the chief priests and scribes had incited the people to choose Barabbas to be released, Pilate had him released. He then asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus. In response "they shouted back, 'Crucify him!' Pilate asked them, 'What harm has he done?' but they shouted all the louder, 'Crucify him!'" (Mk 15:13-14).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I make considered judgements or are they rash? Do I give in to others when I am encouraged to do wrong? Do I encourage others to do wrong?


VI. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

"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, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' and slapping him in the face." (Jn 19:1-3). The soldiers mock Jesus; they dress him in the royal colour, purple, and give him a crown of thorns.

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I deride those who may be less fortunate than me? Is the influence I have over others used to bring about good? Do I belittle my peers?


VII. Jesus carries the cross

Jesus carries the cross

"It was the Day of Preparation [for the Passover], about the sixth hour [noon]" (Jn 19:14), Jesus is given his cross to carry through the streets of Jerusalem to the Place of the Skull, or in Hebrew Golgotha, to be crucified. The heavy weight of the cross almost too heavy to bear.

We need to ask ourselves:-
Do I help those whom society rejects? Do I encourage others to help those less fortunate than I am? Do I see strengths, as well as burdens, in the crosses I have to bear?


VIII. Jesus is helped to carry his cross by Simon of Cyrene

Jesus is helped to carry his cross by Simon of Cyrene

"And when the soldiers had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucifixion. On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, called Simon, and enlisted him to carry Jesus' cross" (Mt 27:31-32). The heavy weight of the cross, now shared, becomes easier to bear.

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I trust that God will give me the strength to bear my crosses with patience? Do I help to shoulder other people's burdens, even when I am just passing by? Do I allow others to help me to bear my crosses?


IX. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Large crowds were following Jesus, among them women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. Jesus said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For look, the days are surely coming when people will say, 'Blessed are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne children, the breasts that have never suckled!" (Lk 23:28-29).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I offer my suffering as a prayer for others (for example, for the redemption of the holy souls in purgatory)? Do I help to alleviate other peoples' suffering? When I hear about natural disasters, do I doubt God, or accept them as part of the earth's natural cycle and pray for those involved?


X. Jesus is crucified

Jesus is crucified

When, at last, they reached Golgotha Jesus was crucified - stripped naked and nails thrusts through his hands and feet - a most humiliating and painful death. He was crucified with two criminals; one on his left the other on his right. "Of the ones crucifying Jesus, he said 'Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.' The people watching heckled him, 'He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.' The soldiers also mocked him saying, 'If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.' Above him there was an inscription: 'This is the King of the Jews.'" (Lk 23:34-38).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I forgive others? I know that only God can save me, but do I believe in false promises, especially when I hear "Save yourself"? Do I humiliate others?


XI. Jesus promises redemption to the Good Thief

Jesus promises redemption to the Good Thief

Jesus is crucified between two thieves, one repentant, and the other unrepentant. Tradition ascribes the name Dismas to the repentant thief, and Gestas to the unrepentant. Gestas challenges Jesus to save all three of them, but Dismas rebukes him saying, "Have you no fear of God at all? You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong." (Lk 23:40-41). Dismas then asks Jesus "'remember me when you come into your kingdom.' He answered him, 'In truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'" (Lk23:42-34).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Like Dismas, am I truly repentant of my sins? Do I clothe the naked and feed the poor? Do I show mercy to others?


XII. Jesus speaks to Mary and John at the foot of the cross

Jesus speaks to Mary and John at the foot of the cross

"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 whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, 'Woman, this is your son.' Then to the disciple he said, 'This is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." (Jn 19:25-27). Jesus asks the disciple, who by tradition is called John, to take Mary into his household and care for her after Jesus' death. Even in his dying moments, Jesus is thinking about and caring for others.

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I put the welfare of others before myself? Does the society in which we live do enough to care for all children, not just orphans? Do I have a sympathetic ear towards widows and widowers?


XIII. Jesus dies on the cross

Jesus dies on the cross

"Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani? - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34). This is the cry as Jesus enters the final stage of his earthly life. Some of the bystanders hear this and wait to see if Elijah will come and save him. Jesus then gave a loud cry and died. There was a centurion standing in front of Jesus, whom by tradition is called Longinus, who saw how he had died and said, "In truth this man was the Son of God." (Mk 15:39).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I trust that God is always at my side, even though I might feel that he isn't? Am I afraid of death, or do I look forward to everlasting life in the beatific vision of heaven? Do I pray for the release of the holy souls from purgatory?


XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Jesus is laid in the tomb

Because it was Preparation Day - the day before the Sabbath - Joseph of Arimathaea asked Pilate for Jesus' body. His request was granted and Joseph wrapped the body in a clean shroud and put it into a new tomb, which he had hewn out of rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre. (c.f. Mt 27:57-61).

We need to ask ourselves:- 
Do I keep the Lord's Day - Sunday - holy by, where possible, resting from servile work? Do I keep my Lenten observance with prayer and devotion, in preparation for Easter? How has this journey through the final days of Christ's life - from the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane to his burial - affected me, has it made a difference in the way I view my life?


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