The Passion of the Lord according to John

Please remember here that the words translated here as “Jew” or “Jews” referred, at the time of the events described, to a powerful observant party, “The Judahites”, within the ethnic group “Hebrews”, and was not yet, as it is for us, an ethnic term. As Church authority has made clear since Vatican II, it is illegitimate to consider that the text makes any reference whatsoever to the ethnic group nowadays called Jewish.

John 18:1-19:42 NRSV

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”  (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”  Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
            “They divided my clothes among themselves,
                        and for my clothing they cast lots.”
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

It is the custom here to pause, and make a deep inclination, until such time as you are ready to continue.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing 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, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Time for silent meditation, if you wish

As has been my custom, I have not posted a homily today, for the office we are praying is long enough and is in any case, beyond commentary. Instead, I have prepared a small meditation. In 2020 I made available a meditation on “sacrifice”, and last year I focused on Jesus occupying the place of shame. Those meditations are still available online. This year I have tried to talk about Good Friday as how God makes visible for us God’s love.

Meditation Good Friday 2021

The Great High Priestly Intercessions

I have included the new intercession approved by Pope Francis for Good Friday 2020, especially for this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

1. For the Church

Let us pray for the holy Church of God throughout the world, that God will guide it and gather it together, so that we may worship the Father in tranquility and peace:  

Almighty and eternal God,
in Christ your Son you revealed your glory
to nation upon nation.
Safeguard the great work of your mercy,
that your Church throughout the world
may persevere with unshakeable faith
in confessing your holy name.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

II. For the Pope

Let us pray also for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, that God, who has chosen him for the office of bishop, will keep him in health and strength for the sake of the Church to guide and govern the holy people of God:

Almighty and eternal God,
whose wisdom orders all things,
protect with your love the shepherd you have chosen,
that the Christian people you entrust to his care
may under his leadership
prosper in faith.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

III. For all Christian leaders

Let us pray also for N. our bishop, for all bishops, priests, and deacons, and for all God’s holy people:  

Almighty and eternal God,
by whose Spirit the Church is ruled and made holy,
hear the prayers we offer
for those you have called to ministry
and for your entire people,
that by your grace
we may all serve you faithfully.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

IV. For those preparing for baptism

Let us pray also for all catechumens, that God will open their ears and their hearts and unlock for them the gates of divine mercy, so that through the waters of rebirth they may receive pardon for their sins and find new life in Christ Jesus:  

Almighty and eternal God,
by whom the Church is continually blessed with new members,
deepen the faith and understanding of all catechumens,
that, being reborn in the font of baptism,
they may take their place among your adopted children.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

V. For all who share our faith in Christ

Let us pray also for those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, that God will gather together and keep in one Church all who seek to live by the truth:  

Almighty and eternal God,
by whom the dispersed are gathered
and kept together as one,
look lovingly on the flock of your Son,
that all who have been sealed by one baptism
may be joined together by wholeness of faith
and preserved in fellowship
by the bond of love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

VI. For the Jewish people.

(here understood in the modern sense)

Let us pray also for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God,
that they will grow in the love of God’s name and in faithfulness to the covenant:
Almighty and eternal God,
who long ago chose Abraham and his descendants
and established them as children of the promise,
hear the prayers of your Church,
that the people you first made your own
may arrive at the fullness of redemption.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

VII. For those who do not share our faith in Christ

Let us pray also for those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ, that the light of the Holy Spirit will guide them toward the path of salvation:
Almighty and eternal God,
grant that those who do not believe in Christ,
but who walk before you
in sincerity of heart, may find the truth.
Make our love for each other grow
and draw us more deeply into the
mystery of salvation,
that we may bear before the world
a more perfect witness to your love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

VIII. For those who do not believe in God

Let us pray also for those who do not believe in God, that they will come to a knowledge of God through their wholehearted seeking of
all that is right:
Almighty and eternal God,
you implanted in the human heart such
a deep longing for yourself that only
in you can peace be found.
Grant that, despite the obstacles which stand in the way,
all may recognise the signs of your goodness,
discern the holiness of your people,
and so gladly acknowledge you as the one true God and Father
of us all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

IX. For all suffering at this time of pandemic

Let  us  pray  also  for all  those  who  suffer  the  consequences  of  the  current  pandemic,  that  God  the Father  may  grant  health  to  the  sick,  strength  to  those  who  care  for  them,  comfort  to  families  and salvation to all the victims who have died:

Almighty ever-living God,
only support of our human weakness,
look with compassion upon the sorrowful condition
of your children who suffer because of this pandemic;
relieve the pain of the sick,
give strength to those who care for them,
welcome into your peace those who have died
and, throughout this time of tribulation,
grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love.
Through Christ our Lord.

X. For those who serve in public office

Let us pray also for those who serve in public office, that God will direct their minds and hearts in accordance with his will to ensure true peace and freedom:
Almighty and eternal God,
whose hand upholds the rights and aspirations
of all, guide those in authority,
that people everywhere on earth
may enjoy prosperity, freedom of worship,
and the security of peace.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

XI. For all those in need

Finally, let us pray that God will rid the world of falsehood and error,
dispel disease and famine from the face of the earth, break the fetters of captives, grant safe passage to travellers and those far from home, restore health to the sick, and give salvation to the dying:
Almighty and eternal God,
comfort of the afflicted and strength
of the weary,
hear the voices of those who cry
to you in distress
and grant that all may rejoice,
because your mercy attended them in their
hour of need.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Now is the time, if you have a covered crucifix in your home, to uncover it, slowly and reverently, contemplating the moment that the veil of the Temple was ripped asunder, so as to reveal the Most High raised high on the Mercy Seat, between two thieves, thus manifesting to us in the flesh the Power, the Wisdom and the Love of God for us.


If you reserved a host, or piece of consecrated bread, overnight following the Maundy Thursday eucharist, now is the moment for the communion rite:

☞ Move on to the rite of communion

If however, you have dispensed with communion, now move directly to the concluding prayer:


send down abundant blessing upon your people,
who have recalled your Son’s death
in the sure hope of rising again.
Grant us pardon and renew our strength;
deepen our faith
and confirm in us your work of eternal redemption.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Conclude in silence.