Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Despite how much I’m digging St. Peter’s this week, we go to St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill for the Good Friday service.

The procession is in silence. Then when the priests reach the sanctuary, they prostrate themselves, lie there with their faces on the floor for a short time. It’s incredibly moving. The altar itself is absent its usual cloth. The Tabernacle, here at the back of the Sanctuary behind the altar, stands open and empty. And here at St. Joseph’s on either side of the Tabernacle are statues of angels which also serve as candle holders. Today they hold none; indeed, they’ve turned their backs on us as well. Everything is all so very lonesome feeling.

And there’s no Mass today, just a service.

Of the readings, the first is a long, heart wrenching piece from Isaiah. This gets me every year.

He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins

The Gospel is from St. John, two whole chapters. Nineteen hundred and fourteen words. The whole persecution and passion.

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.

I always liked this scene in The Last Temptation of Christ. The movie, I mean. I never read the book. Willem Dafoe plays Jesus, and in this last line he says, “It is completed” rather than, “It is finished.” I don’t know what exact word St. John used in the original Greek, but I like that.