Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Holy Thursday - Twelve Gospels

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Those Who Surrounded Christ

The human, personal reactions of those who surrounded Christ at the time of His Passions were, like our own, many and varied. The Service deals with these reactions in much detail, particularly the agony experienced by Mary the Theotokos. Her initial reaction before the Passion of her Divine Son is one of disbelief:

...Where goest Thou, my child?
Why dost Thou run so swift a course?
Sorely there is not another wedding in Cana to which Thou now dost hasten to change water into wine?
... -Do not pass me by in silence . . .
... Thou art my son and my God.

(Ikos)
Her final agony is a compassionate co-suffering with her Son:
Today the blameless virgin
Saw Thee suspended upon the cross, O Word.
She mourned within herself and was sorely pierced in her heart.
She groaned in agony from the depth of her soul...

(Apostilcha)
With Mary at the time of the crucifixion was John. He alone among the disciples did not abandon the Lord. He remained faithful to the very end, and was present to accept Jesus' last command: "Woman, behold your son! . . . Behold your mother" (John 19:26-27).

Simon Peter sought to remain with Christ at least initially. But his faith grew weak, and he denied the Lord three times, even as the Lord had said:
"You will deny your convictions as soon as the question is put to you, O Simon Peter,
and the sudden approach of a servant girl will terrify you," said the Lord.
"But after weeping bitterly you will have great mercy from me,
whom all creation blesses and glorifies throughout all ages."

(Kanon, Ode 8)
Most noteworthy is the pagan centurion who fell in awe before the torn body yet unshaken majesty of Christ and exclaimed: "Truly, this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).
 
In sharp contrast with the centurion is the other thief who was crucified with Christ. His reaction to Christ was the same as those to whom both the Gospel and liturgical texts refer as "the crowds." He mocked Christ and demanded a miraculous sign before he would believe. "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us" (Luke 23:39). He says that 'He is the King of Israel;' let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him" (Matthew 27:42).

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