Ascending to The Horrendous Golgotha (John 19, 17), i.e. “The Place of the Skull” (“Golgotha” in Hebrew), was by far the most gut wrenching experience at our pilgrimage. Here the mystery of divine economy was accomplished, here the New Testament was sealed with the blood of the Theanthropos (Godman) which cleansed humanity from the evils of sin and death.
Stairway to Calvary in Holy Sepulchre Church …
Like in the prison of Christ, suddenly everything — the raw violence, the injustice and the hubris recorded in the “Twelve Gospel” readings* -– everything, becomes scarily all too real!
“33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). …
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[c] When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23, 44-46)
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]
… 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 33, 45-53)
“Today is hung upon the Tree, He Who did hang the land in the midst of the waters. A Crown of thorns crowns Him Who is King of Angels. He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery Who wrapped the Heavens with clouds. He received buffetings Who freed Adam in Jordan. He was transfixed with nails Who is the Bridegroom of the Church. He was pierced with a spear Who is the Son of the Virgin. We worship Thy Passion, O Christ. Show also unto us thy glorious Resurrection.”
This is the hole through which you can touch the very earth where the Cross actually stood.
The queue of the pilgrims never ends here.
Just look at this ancient rock, the Rock of Calvary, literally split in half, exuding the fragrance of Holiness and Sanctity!
“Oh look, my soul, look!
How the rock was split in half
At the sight of the Crucifixion
Of the Invaluable Treasure!”
(Excerpt of a poem by St. John Jacob (the Romanian)
How much more should our hearts be torn and wounded by love if an inanimate material felt the hubris and shuddered and literally split in two at the sight of our Lord on the Cross! Indeed, we need to continually beseech the Lord for “pardon and remission of our sins and transgressions”, “that we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance”.
“Before the end to our life comes, because then we lose the right to pray for ourselves… because the time given to us for our repentance has expired.”
Glory to Thy Forbearance, O Lord!
Lord Jesus Christ forgive us the sinners.
* Service of the HOLY PASSION of our Lord Jesus Christ on Great Holy Thursday Evening
I thought about this during the eclipse this year. How very odd it is to experience the sun not shining during the middle of the day. The eerie silence, the cold, the knowing that it’s beautiful, life giving rays should be shining on us but they are not. How much more of an impact must it have been on those witnessing the death of the Christ! Thank you for posting this.
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Thank you. I have also experienced such an eclipse in the past and it feels exactly as you describe. What struck me most then was the animals’ reactions: all the animals probably because they are ‘simpler’, ‘purer’ to men and closer to nature and ‘real life’ responded to the eclipse with awe and fear. Sometimes also, when I read in the Gospel readings how the Lord ‘rebuked’ the storm, how the waters drew back and indeed reversed their course when our Lord entered the Jordan river for his baptism, and soon and so forth, I begin to believe that Nature sees clearer in the Spirit, feels more acutely and understands intuitively more than most men the spiritual impact and the ultimate reality of Mankind’s life choices. Saints possess this insight too.
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