Read John 13:36-38; 19:38-42
The first of these two Gospel lessons appointed for the daily office today is intended to be read in the morning; the second in the evening. But for purposes of this meditation, I recommend that you read them together. At the Mass of the Presanctified, or the Good Friday liturgy, the lesson appointed is John 19:1-37. These two daily office readings nicely frame the Passion Gospel of the liturgy.
The first of the two lessons is the foretelling of Peter’s denial. But what is interesting for our purposes is Peter’s contention that “I will lay down my life for you.” In the second reading it is two Jewish leaders who claim the crucified body of Jesus. None of our Lord’s disciples is there, and despite Peter’s assurance, he is conspicuously absent.
Yesterday we read that Jesus gave us His Body and His Blood. For us to truly receive Him, He had to die. Without the crucifixion, there could be no resurrection. His sacrifice upon that cross was not simply for Peter and His disciples. It wasn’t just for Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. It wasn’t just for that generation, but for us and all who have come before us and will come after us. His death was for all mankind, even those who had lived before the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry.
In the latter of the two readings for today we read that “because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” In John’s timeline it was the day of preparation for the Passover. But what is significant for us is that there is an implied invitation for us to prepare for receiving the Resurrected Jesus. As we will see tomorrow, Jesus descends into hell and releases the captives. He will yet rise from the tomb and greet the women and the disciples. Will we be ready to greet Him, too?