Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Wednesday/The Clock of the Passion

March 19, 2008
The Chapel of the Resurrection
Gethsemane Cathedral
Fargo, North Dakota
John 13.21-32

We are now beginning our descent into the depths of this week. On Sunday, we celebrated Palm Sunday—the day when we all gathered up palms and welcomed Jesus as King. Today, in our Gospel reading, we find Jesus "troubled in spirit." All those who welcomed him and acclaimed him on Sunday will, by Thursday night and Friday, have disappeared. On the night before he dies, Jesus will suffer alone, with no one to comfort him or console him. He will be betrayed, he will be beaten and mocked, he will be tried, found guilty, whipped and he will be horribly executed.

These are not things we want to think about as we set out thoughts to Easter and spring. But the fact is, that, if we truly want to celebrate and fully reap the benefits of Easter—the benefit of unending light and life—we must first walk with Jesus on that awful last trek to the place of the Skull. We must stumble with him on the way, we must sweat with him on the way, we must bleed with him on the way. We must suffer with him on the cross, and there, we must die with him. And with him, we must be buried in that tomb with, because only when we have done all of that, can we rise with him in glorious triumph and light from that same tomb.

One of the most cherished books I’ve ever read is a book I first read as a teenager. The book is The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus De Ligouri. It’s a book of deep and real devotion and there are many great devotional practices in the book that have helped me fully participate in the last moments of Jesus’ earthly life. One of the spiritual exercises, found as an appendix in St. Alphonsus’ book, is the so-called Clock of the Passion. It is an hour-by-hour schedule from 5:00 Maundy Thursday evening through 6:00 Good Friday evening. By following the Clock of the Passion over these next few days, we are really able to walk with Jesus in his Passion. I have adapted it a bit for Episcopalians.

As we enter these dark, but holy three days, I encourage you, if you are able, to make an attempt to follow this Clock of the Passion. And in doing so, you will truly be able to answer honestly “Yes” to the question, “Could you not have even kept watch with me for even one hour?” In doing so, you will be able to do more than just keep watch with him for an hour. By following it, you will go that one step further: to actually walk with him along that last journey, knowing full well that, although we walk with him now in sorrow, pain and destruction, in no time at all, we will walk with him in joy, gladness and unending light.


(adapted by Fr. Jamie Parsley from St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)


5:00 to 7:00 - Jesus celebrates his last supper

8:00 - Jesus washes the feet of disciples and institutes the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist

9:00 - Discourse of Jesus; he goes to the Garden of Gethsemane

10:00- Prayer of Jesus in the garden

11:00 - Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane


MIDNIGHT - The sweating of blood

1:00 - Jesus is betrayed by Judas, and is bound

2:00 - Jesus is led before Annas

3:00 - Jesus is taken before Caiphas and receives a blow on the face

4:00 - Jesus is blindfolded, struck and scoffed at.

5:00 - Jesus is led to the council, and declared guilty of death.

6: 00 - Jesus is taken to Pilate, and accused.

7: 00 - Jesus is mocked by Herod.

8: 00 - Jesus is conducted to Pilate, and Barabbas is preferred to him

9:00 - Jesus is scourged at the pillar

10: 00 - Jesus is crowned with thorns, and exhibited to the people.

11: 00 - Jesus is condemned to death, and goes to Calvary

MIDDAY - Jesus is stripped and crucified

1: 00 - Jesus prays for his murderers

2: 00 - Jesus recommends his spirit to his Father

3:00 - Jesus dies

4:00 - Jesus is pierced with a lance

5: 00 - Jesus is taken down from the cross

6:00 - Jesus is buried and left in the sepulcher.

1 comment:

Allen Lewis said...

I found this very moving. The only problem I have with your timeline is that Mark's Gospel clearly states that "And it was the third hour, when they crucified him." [Mk 15:25]. That would be 9:00AM, which is when he is being scrourged by your clock.
Other than that one quibble, I think this is a good way to walk with Jesus in his final hours.