The fifth Lenten station of the liturgical peregrinations, which the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land perform each year to prepare for Easter, was held on Wednesday 29th March in the complex of the Flagellation. Mass was celebrated at the Sanctuary of the Condemnation, the place of the conclusive act of the trial where Jesus was accused in the hours after his arrest is evoked.
The episode is narrated, with others, in Chapter 19 of the Gospel according to John, which brings together the different phases of the trial that led to the condemnation of Christ by the Roman Governor of Galilee, Pontius Pilate.
The celebration of the Eucharist was presided by fr. Gregor Geiger, ofm, while, as on every peregrination this Lent, fr. Alessandro Coniglio, lecturer and secretary of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, commented on the Word of the day.
The preacher developed a reflection on Christ’s extreme sacrifice and its theological meaning: "On this peregrination to the place where Jesus was condemned to death, the liturgy of the word offers us as a first reading Isaiah (53, 1-10), which resumes the story of the suffering servant, going as far as his destiny of death […] The Lord’s servant offers his life, undergoing all kinds of insults and suffering until death so that, weighed down with the burden of our sins and our iniquity, his wounds and his death become compensation for our wrongdoing."
In the very spot where the trial of Jesus was celebrated, the words of the homily emphasized the distance and the incompatibility between the innocence of Christ – declared by Pilate (John 18, 38; 19, 4) – and his condemnation. It is an injustice that can be understood only by entering into the logic of the sacrifice and the sacerdotal grammar “of some particular rites of compensation/satisfaction for a sin that has been committed." Naturally, the sin is that of humanity, which Christ has taken on himself, expiating the punishment on the cross.
To fill in the dichotomic distance between the lack of guilt and the condemnation of Jesus, fr. Alessandro insisted on the fact that his innocence was our justification and that the wounds of Christ were the gushing source of our salvation, without which we would not have been redeemed.
The indication of salvation can therefore be represented by the event of the redemption which is expressed with the absolute gift of God for us. This indication, Fr. Coniglio continued, corresponds to an imperative of salvation: "Christian life is not only ecstatic contemplation of the paradoxical mystery of God, but a concrete sequel of the sacrificed Lamb, to follow in its footsteps.”
"What can we give God in exchange for his immense generosity?" Fr. Alessandro asked, concluding the homily. "It is not about giving back or repaying what we cannot pay back. Rather it is about imitating the life of Christ. Since we started these Lenten peregrinations, the mystery of the pathos of God has not been offered to us only so that we could get to know him, but so that we could imitate him. Being believers in the God who suffered the passion of love for us, means being willing to suffer with patience every discomfort and every torment in order to free others from their suffering.”
At the end of the celebration, the faithful who were present were invited to enjoy cordial refreshments offered by the friars in the convent.
Filippo De Grazia