Gospel - Luke 23: 1-49 - The Lord's Passion
It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Visit the USCCB's website for the full Gospel Reading.
Written by Gina Navoa Svarovsky, Ph.D.
When I was in fifth grade or so, I remember my dad asking me if I wanted to join him at my uncle’s house for the Filipino tradition of the Pabasa – a choral reading of the Passion of Christ. Traditionally done by family and friends within someone’s home, the Pabasa usually starts during Holy Tuesday or Wednesday, and it keeps going for hours and hours, well into the night, until the reading is completed on Good Friday morning. When I went with my dad as a young girl, I remember that we would always bring three things: a thermos of hot tea, a plate of freshly cooked lumpia, and a wrinkled and worn copy of the Pabasa songbook.
This week, as I read and re-read the words of Luke’s gospel and his account of Christ’s Passion, I was immediately taken back to the Pabasa, and that weathered old copy of the songbook. Within the text, there was an illustration that stood out to me every year: a drawing of Jesus on the cross, exhausted, weary, and dying. What I always noticed, though, every year we did the reading, was the way that Jesus’ hands were positioned in the drawing. It seemed like He was, even in the final moments of his human life, and even while nailed to a cross, reaching out towards those around Him. Extending a hand to the sinners on either side of Him, inviting them to join Him. To believe in Him. To walk with Him, hand in hand, with and through the most difficult of circumstances… and have faith that Paradise is on the other side. That image has always stuck with me, acting as a powerful reminder of the love Jesus has for us, and how He is always reaching out to us, especially when we may feel the most alone.
As this year’s season of Lent draws to a close, may we find hope and joy in knowledge that Jesus’ hands are right there, forever ready and waiting to invite us, to embrace us and to strengthen us on our daily journey.