Sunday, April 14, 2019

(222) Living With Christ During Holy Week Through Images of the Holy Land


Looking down from the Mount of Olives into the Kidron Valley and Jerusalem as Christ triumphally entered Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday.   Jesus was leaving the home of Martha and Mary in Bethany, where…..Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair (John 12:3).
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.  On the next day, when the great crowd that had come to the feast (of Passover) heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet him, and cried out: "Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel" (John 12:10-13).

St. Luke (19:28-40) gives more detail:  After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.  As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples.  He said, "Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here.  And if anyone should ask you, 'Why are you untying it?' you will answer, 'The Master has need of it.'"  So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them.  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying this colt?"  They answered, "The Master has need of it."  So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.  They proclaimed:  "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest."  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He said in reply, "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

The Church of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives.

Above is the Church of Dominus Flevit in the shape of a teardrop, the site of Christ’s lament over Jerusalem.  As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes.  For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.  They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41-44).  This indeed came to pass in the Year 70 AD when the future Emperor Titus besieged and destroyed the city to put down a rebellion by the Zealots.  Even the temple was destroyed.
Jesus specifically asked for the colt of a donkey to ride into Jerusalem as is custom for a newly anointed king who seeks a peaceful reign, thus fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.  From the Mt. of Olives where the above photo (at the beginning of the article) was taken.  Jesus then came down the Mount of Olives into the Kidron Valley and triumphantly up into Jerusalem through the gate on the right in the top photo.  It is called the Golden Gate and the Gate of Mercy.  Notice that it is bricked up.  Centuries ago the radical Muslim conquerors closed the gate to Christian worship.

The Muslim golden Dome of the Rock is prominent in the photo.  It was built on the site where Abraham with great sadness was in the process of sacrificing His beloved son Isaac to the Lord as He had asked, but an Angel intervened in the last moment (Genesis 22).  

    Some 3000 years later God, our Father, did indeed sacrifice His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, as reparation for our sins so that Heaven may be open to us unless we reject it through sin.  Paradoxically, the three great religions often in conflict, all consider Abraham as their father.  The Muslims recognize Christ as a prophet.  Only the Christians recognize Him as the Son of God, fully divine yet fully human.

The Temple Mount: the outer wall of the original temple which was destroyed by the Romans.

Behind the Dome of the Rock is the Temple Mount which is shown above.  Only a few of the outer walls of the original temple remain.  Notice the devout Orthodox Jews, many dressed in black, praying as they face one of the original walls.  That wall is often called the “Wailing Wall” because the Jews pray there and lament the loss of the temple which was never rebuilt and never will be.  Thus Judaism has synagogues for prayer around the world, but no temple for the sacrifice of lambs.


A model of the temple in the time of Christ.  It was destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in the 70 AD.

      The Last SupperThen he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me."  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you (Luke 22:19-20).  Thus our Lord instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders.

The Site of the Last Supper is seen in the photo above, often called the Cenacle (meaning dining room) and the Upper Room.  The apostles used it as a meeting place.  It was spared during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.  It seems that this, the original Cenacle, although repaired and restored, miraculously survived the  destruction of the Byzantine and Crusader churches around it (see
At every Mass the priest as another Christ (Persona Christi) repeats those same words in the Consecration of the Mass and we receive the Lord Himself.  In fact, transcending time, the Last Supper and Calvary are brought to us in every Mass, which is the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus.

John’s Gospel describes a beautiful act of humility of Our Lord.  Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.  He loved his own in the world and He loved them to the end.  The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into His power and that He had come from God and was returning to God, He rose from supper and took off his outer garments.  

He took a towel and tied it around his waist.  Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." 

So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.  If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:1-15).

On this the first Holy Thursday when Christ instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders, this clearly demonstrates that the vocation of the priest is to serve God and His people and never to abuse anyone in any way.  In fact, all of us, as members of the common priesthood by our Baptism, are called to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the ordained priest and to serve each other.

The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus took the apostles to the Garden (above photo) as he often did, to pray.  When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test."  After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done."  And to strengthen Him an angel from heaven appeared to Him.  He was in such agony and He prayed so fervently that His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground (Luke 22:39-46).  

     The sweating of blood is medically possible as a result of capillaries breaking and can occur under extreme anguish and fear such as when Christ saw what was coming in His crucifixion.
 The photo above is the Garden of Gethsemane (meaning olive press).  According to carbon dating, the olive trees in the foreground date to 200-300 years before the time of Christ.  The wood of the cross of Christ was from an olive tree.  Judas led the chief priests and a band of soldiers here to seize Jesus, betraying Him by pointing Him out with a kiss.   Our Lord went through a long night and morning of a so called trial by the Sanhedrin for a show of legality.  Then they took Jesus to the puppet King Herod and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate to obtain permission for a crucifixion.  Our Lord appeared before them with a calm grace, trusting in His Father’s will and His help to carry him through the ordeal.

The site where St. Peter denied knowing Christ three times.

The statue of Christ after being scourged in the Chapel of the Flagellation before                          accepting His cross as we all should.

There was flagellation (above photo) with 120 lashes (according to the Shroud of Turin) by a whip with a number of strands tipped with small lead balls and pieces of bone.  With each lash blood sprayed onto the ground.  The scourges alone would kill a weaker man.  The crown of thorns pounded into His skull added injury and insult to the King of the Universe.

            A mosaic of Christ carrying His cross on the site where He was 
condemned to death.  May we accept the crosses that life brings
to each one of us as the Lord did and offer them to the Father as
dynamic prayers for the conversion of sinners and our personal 
intentions.  The cross is a path to sanctity and ultimate victory.

The Via Dolorosa or Way of the Cross that Our Lord carried His cross to Golgotha or  Calvary               

Then our Lord had to carry His cross up the Via Dolorosa or sorrowful way of the cross to Calvary with some help by Simon of Cyrene.  A chapel or plaque marks each station of the cross (See Appendix)……..falling three times and continuing on; the compassion of Veronica and the Women of Jerusalem which was a consolation; etc.   His faithful mother suffered with Him the whole way to Calvary, was with her dying son beneath the cross for the three hours, and helped to bury Him (see Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of Christ”.

The altar of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, on the spot where Christ suffered and died for our sins.                  Notice that Mary is under the cross, faithful to the end.  Mary is also faithful to us, her children.

The above photo depicts the Crucifixion over the actual spot in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  It is said that Adam is buried beneath that spot where Christ redeemed him and billions of others.  Pilgrims can touch the original rock below the altar.  St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine in the 4th century looked for the most likely place that old crosses would be deposited.  She tested a piece of wood approximately 1.5 inches by 1 inch by 1 inch and touched it to the body of a paralytic.  Since he was immediately healed, she concluded that it is a relic of the true cross.  Many cathedrals have a relic of the true cross in the form of a splinter from that fragment.
The intensity of our Lord’s suffering matched the intensity of His love for us.  Each breath that Christ took was excruciating because our Lord had to lift himself up against the nail in each wrist.  He could only speak seven times (See Appendix) with great love to all…….expressing his thirst for sinners to repent and ask for His mercy; forgiving His executioners; giving us His own mother as our mother to guide us to God; showing mercy to the repentant good thief; commending His spirit to the Father, and exclaiming in triumph, “IT IS FINISHED!”  May we follow Him, imitate Him, and do what He tells us.

       Notice that Mary is under the cross, faithful to the end.  Mary is also faithful to us, her children.


See Blog #73 Meditations For the Rosary II: The 5th Luminous Mystery, the Institution of the Eucharist.

(78) Meditations For the Rosary III: The Sorrowful Mysteries

            Doctors have written articles on the medical aspects of the Christ's passion and can only conclude that He had tremendous endurance and superhuman strength to bear it all and stay alive for as long as He did.  See,,,

The Stations of the Cross

            The Bible covers the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) to Calvary or Golgotha in Matthew 27:32-33; Mark 15:20-22); Luke 23:26-33; and John 19:16-17.  Some of the Stations of the Cross are biblical.  Others are implied from the biblical account or taken from tradition as the Christ’s meeting with Veronica. 

1. Jesus Is Condemned to Death
     (Matthew 26:57-68; 27:11-26; Mark 14:53-65; 15:1-15; Luke 22:66-23:25; John 18:19-24; 28-40; 19:1-16).
     Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death.  
2. Jesus Takes Up His Cross (John 19:17).
    Jesus willingly accepts and patiently bears his cross.
3. Jesus Falls the First Time.
    Weakened by torments and by loss of blood, Jesus falls beneath his cross.
4. Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother.
    Jesus meets his mother, Mary, who is filled with grief.
5. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:20-22; Luke 23:26).
    Soldiers force Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross.
6. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus.
    Veronica steps through the crowd to wipe the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus Falls a Second Time.
    Jesus falls beneath the weight of the cross a second time.
8. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-31).  
    Jesus tells the women to weep not for him but for themselves and for their children.
9. Jesus Falls the Third Time.
    Weakened almost to the point of death, Jesus falls a third time.
10. Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments.
      The soldiers strip Jesus of his garments, treating him as a common criminal.
11. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross.
      Jesus’ hands and feet are nailed to the cross.
12. Jesus Dies on the Cross (Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:25-37).
      After suffering greatly on the cross, Jesus bows his head and dies.
13. Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross.
      The lifeless body of Jesus is tenderly placed in the arms of Mary, his mother.
14. Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42).
      Jesus’ disciples place his body in the tomb.

The Seven Words of Christ From the Cross  

1)      "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). 

2)      The good thief said: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "”Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise"  (Luke 23:39-43). 
3)      When Jesus saw his mother the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-27). 
4)      After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I "thirst.” (John 19:28). 
5)      "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34-35). 
6)      It is finished."   And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit (John 19:30). 
7)      "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"and when he had said this he breathed his last
  (Luke 23:46).

                                            Other Photos

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