Daily Devotion for April 18, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
It is too bad that this old, old recording was done before High Fidelity was invented; we just have to imagine what Paul Robeson actually sounded like, because he was highly praised in his day.
Prayer for the Morning
Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.
[The broken body of Jesus.]
Prayer for Good Friday
Christ Jesus, you hung upon a cross and died for me so that I might live for you; Your body was broken and your blood shed so that I might be healed and made whole. You were faithful unto death so that I might be faithful unto life. Your last command was that we might love one another, one family together from every tribe and nation; a new creation united through your sacrifice, redeemed by your blood, healed by your love, united by your covenant of peace. Grant that, in your death I may find life, and in your suffering I may find peace, today and forever.
Community of Prayer
I pray to you, dearest Jesus, for all the graces I need to know you, to love you and serve you faithfully unto death, and to save my soul. Give me a tender and fervent devotion to your sacred passion by which I was redeemed, venerating you each day in prayer, and teach me how to unite sorrows and sufferings of my life with your own.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 22: 1, 16-18, 21, 27 (NKJV)
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? . . .
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots. . . .
You have answered Me. . . .
All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
John 19:28-30 (KJV)
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Notes on the Scripture
This is the saddest day of the year, in the Christian calendar. But why do we mourn the death of Christ, a death ordained by Christ himself, especially when we know he will rise again in a few days, in great glory?
It is human to mourn when a loved one dies. Even most devout Christians will mourn and grieve the death of a loved one, though they are certain that the deceased has gone on to a better existence. We mourn the pain they have suffered and we mourn the pain we feel at their departure. So it is natural to mourn the death of one who is so innocent, so perfect, the very Prince of Peace.
We also mourn for Christ's pain. Never does he seem as fully human as when he says he is thirsty. Thirst is used throughout the Gospel of John to stand for spiritual yearning; and Christ repeatedly offers to quench others' thirst with a river of water that will never run dry. But now, he himself thirsts; he seeks the spirit of his Father to comfort him in his agony. It lets us know, without question, that God has experienced the most extreme pain of being human and thus gives us confidence in his sympathy for us.
And we mourn for the sinfulness of those who killed him and for the pain we, ourselves, have caused in our lives. Despite our best efforts, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and we regret it. It is the ultimate day of penitence.
Although the accounts differ among the gospels, Christ receiving vinegar is the source of a lot of controversy and confusion. People can't even agree on what the "vinegar" actually was, or whether it was an act of cruelty or an act of mercy to give it to Christ. One must think that in John's version, vinegar on hyssop was intended as an act of kindness, because hyssop was a medicinal herb used widely in Jewish purification ceremonies.
One thing we can say with certainty: The act fulfills and ancient Biblical prophesy: "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psalm 69:21)