Day 161: The Crucifixion of Christ

Mark 15:1-15 Christ spoke little to Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea, who went before the crowd to offer them the choice of freeing either him or Barabbas, a revolutionary. Christ was then tortured and condemned to death. Barabbas is Aramaic for “son of the father”; it is ironic that he was freed while Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, was condemned to death. (CCC 591)

Ch 15:15 Pilate was a weak character who knew fully that Christ was innocent but proclaimed him guilty out of cowardice and delivered him to be crucified in order to placate the jeering crowds. 

Scourged: Scourging was a form of punishment that involved lashing the victim with a whip. (CCC 572)

Ch 15:16-20 Christ was rejected not just by Jews but by Gentiles as well. The Gentile soldiers, however, at least recognized him as king, even if in jest. (CCC 597-598)

Ch 15:16 Praetorium: The official residence of Pilate.

Ch 15:22 Golgotha: Aramaic for “skull.”

Ch 15:27 *Other ancient authorities add as verse 28: “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘He was reckoned with the transgressors.’”

Ch 15:34 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?: Christ’s cry came from Psalm 22, a prayer of a holy  man who is mocked and persecuted but will eventually emerge victorious, bringing praise upon God for his ultimate assistance. Though without sin, Christ identified with sinners, including the pain of abandonment caused by the alienation of sin. (CCC 603, 2605)

Ch 15:38 Torn in two, from top to bottom: This curtain separated the people from God’s presence in the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Temple, where the high priest alone would make sacrifices in the presence of God on behalf of the people once a year. Its tearing apart symbolizes the reconciliation of God and humanity, the rending of what separated the human person from God. The Old Covenant had fulfilled its role and now is reflected by the New Covenant in Christ. 

Ch 15:39 Truly this man was the Son of God: The acknowledgement of Christ’s divinity by the centurion is a sign that people from every nation and culture are invited to share in his offer of redemption. (CCC 444, 599-603)

Ch 15:42-47 Pilate’s men confirmed that Christ had died, and a prominent member of the Sanhedrin buried him in his own tomb with the two Marys as witnesses. The burial had to be done in haste because the Sabbath would begin at sundown. (CCC 641)

Ch 16:1-8 Christ’s Resurrection was reported to the faithful woman by a young man, an angel, who gave them a message for Peter and the Apostles (the specific mention of Peter is an indication of his primacy among the Eleven). The Resurrection took place on Sunday, which became known as the Lord’s Day, the day set aside for Christian worship. (CCC 333, 1166-1167, 2174)

Ch 16:7 He is going before you to Galilee: This was precisely what Christ had told the Twelve when he foretold their desertion of him in Mark 14:28. (CCC 652)

Ch 16:9-20 The faithful women who came to anoint Christ’s Body became the first to proclaim the news of the Resurrection, even to the Apostles themselves. Mary Magdalene was also the first reported in Scripture to have set eyes on the Risen Christ. Despite the fact that Christ had frequently told the disciples that he would be raised from the dead, their doubt of the women’s testimony showed they neither expected nor believed it to be possible. Only when Christ appeared to them personally did they finally believe, and Christ took them to task-yet again-for their unbelief. The bodily Resurrection of Christ was a physical reality, not the collective imagination or mere mystical experience of his closest companions. (CCC 642, 643)

Ch 16:12-14 Mark offered only a brief summary of Christ’s appearance to the men on their way to Emmaus, which is told in greater detail in Luke (cf. Lk 24:13-35). 

Eleven: Mark does not tell us what happened to Judas, but this clearly indicates he is no longer counted among the Apostles. (CCC 643, 645, 659-660)

Ch 16:15-18 Christ sent forth his disciples to preach to all nations and to offer them the Sacraments of his salvation, specifically referring to Baptism. Other miraculous acts of the disciples would provide further signs that it was Christ’s power acting through them. (CCC 75, 748, 1507)

Ch 16:15 Christ’s mandate to his Apostles was universal, i.e., to take the Gospel message to the whole world. In giving this instruction, he promised the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who would give them the strength and guidance to fulfill this mission. The mandate given to the Apostles continues to be the chief task of the Church, which is led by the bishops-the successors or the Apostles-along with their priests and deacons as co-workers in the ministry. Lay persons are called to share in this apostolic mission by speaking and living in faithfulness to Christ and to his Church within their state of life. (CCC 888-889, 897-900, 977)

Ch 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved: In assigning his mission to the Apostles, Christ linked the forgiveness of sins with Baptism and faith. Faith is ESSENTIAL for salvation, and Baptism is the SACRAMENT of faith. Following the words of Christ, the Church has consistently taught that Baptism is necessary for salvation “for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for the sacrament” (CCC 1257). It is only within the Church, the Sacrament of Salvation founded by Christ, that the faithful are enabled to encounter Christ in the fullest possible way provided by the Sacraments. (CCC 161, 183, 1223, 1253-1257)

Ch 16:17-18 The signs and wonders performed by Christ and his disciples provide evidence of the Kingdom of God and of the healing power of Christ working through his ministers. The disciples were able to perform such works because they acted in his name. “Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability ‘are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all’; they are ‘motives of credibility,’ which show that the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind’” (Dei Filius, 3: DS 3008-3010; cf. Mk 16:20; Heb 2:4) but rather is quite reasonable. (CCC 434, 670, 699, 1507, 1673)

Ch 16:19-20 After Christ ascended into Heaven, the disciples continued the mission on which he had sent them. (CCC 2, 156, 659, 670)

Psalm 22 This psalm is rich in prophetic references to Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross, some of which are explicitly cited in the New Testament.

My God...forsaken me?: This opening verse was recited by Christ on the Cross. Christ took upon himself all our sins and atoned for them on the Cross. These words articulate the most severe type of suffering, which consists in the sensation of being abandoned by God. 

All who see me mock at me...wag their heads: This verse prefigures the abuse and insults Christ received during his Passion (cf. Mt 27:39, Mk 15:29, Lk 23:35).

Let him deliver him: Onlookers taunted Christ as he hung from the Cross, challenging him to call upon his Father to rescue him. 

Upon you...been my God: The psalmist knew that God had watched over him throughout his entire life. This verse reminds us of the words of the Lord to Jeremiah in which he traced knowledge of the prophet to his conception: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer 1:5). 

They have pierced...all my bones: This references the Crucifixion of Christ and perhaps the gauntness and exposure of one who has been brutally tortured. 

They divide...cast lots: At the time of his Crucifixion, the soldiers cast lots to claim Christ’s seamless tunic; John cites this verse in the course of relating this detail. (cf. Jn 19:24). (CCC 112, 603, 716, 2605, 2754)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving us your Son. Thank you for giving us hope, because in the face of our own deaths, in the face of our own suffering and pain, in the face of our own sin, we have no hope if we are on our own. But Lord God, you have sent your Son to bear our sin. You have sent your Son to transform our suffering. And you have sent your Son to redeem the power of death, to conquer the power of death, and to transform it, to redeem death so that now death is no longer the enemy but death is our mother. And she gives birth to us in your presence. She brings us from this world into the next. She brings us from this life into Eternal Life with you. That’s only possible because of your love, Father. Because of the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, and what he did for us, what he has done for us, and how he continues with you to send the Holy Spirit to be with us this day and every day. So Father, please, send your Holy Spirit upon us right now. And transform in our hearts what needs to be transformed. Bring to life what is dead. Heel what is broken. And forgive, please Lord God, forgive what is needing forgiveness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”