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The author of the Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus “tasted death” (2, 9). He died slowly in the midst of atrocious torture. He could taste human dying.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary mostly emphasize the physical sufferings of Jesus. However, we should not forget that Jesus suffered much internally, that is, at the level of the soul. Hence, some painful mysteries of his Sacred Heart could have been composed as well.

First Mystery: The betrayal of his friends

Judas Iscariot has gone down in history as the quintessential traitor. Sitting at the table with his disciples, Jesus said, “One of you will betray me” (Jn 13, 21). After giving anointed bread to Judas, the evangelist says, “After he took the morsel, Satan entered him” (Jn 13, 27). He adds, “So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night” (Jn 13, 30). The remark alludes to the inner darkness of Judas, overcome by the power of sin. A gesture of friendship in Gethsemane consummated the betrayal: “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely” (Mk 14, 44).

Not only did Judas betray the Master, but so did Peter, who denied him three times (cf. Lk 22, 54-60). Nevertheless, Jesus would save Peter just by looking at him: “The Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Lk 22, 61), who “wept bitterly” (v. 62).

The other apostles became infected with betrayal: “And they all left him and fled” (Mk 14, 50). Only John would later go to the Calvary (cf. Jn 19, 26).

Psalm 55 reflects well the sentiments of the aching Heart of Jesus, betrayed by his friends: “For it is not an enemy that reviled me—that I could bear—not a foe who viewed me with contempt, from that I could hide. But it was you, my other self, my comrade and friend” (vv. 13-14).  

Second Mystery: Gethsemane

In the Mount of Olives, the prayer of Jesus became agony, a Greek word for “struggle.” There was a struggle of wills between the duty of assuming the sacrifice and his repugnance to pain and death. Mark says that Jesus felt “troubled and distressed” (14, 33) and that he revealed his inner state to James, Peter and John: “My soul is sorrowful even to death” (v. 34). From Luke we know that the intensity of his agony had an unusual psychosomatic manifestation: “His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground” (Luke 24, 44).

But something more than his fear of torture weighed on Jesus. He felt the burden of carrying what was alien to him, the sin of humanity. St. Paul interpreted Jesus' inner suffering well: “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor 5, 21). 

Third Mystery: The unjust power of the Judiciary

Jesus had no fair trial, but a simulation of justice. Since the beginning of his public ministry, the Jewish authorities had already condemned him to death. But the attacks against him had failed “because his hour had not yet come” (Jn 7, 30). Finally, a week before being taken to trial, Caiaphas dictated a death sentence for the Sanhedrin: “It is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish” (Jn 11, 50). And the evangelist adds: “So from that day on they planned to kill him” (v. 53).

The Jewish authorities interrogated him and distorted the meaning of his words, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2, 19), and they called him a blasphemer for revealing his identity (cf. Mt 26, 65).

They falsely accused him before the Roman authority of revolting the nation; of opposing to pay taxes to Caesar; and inciting the people (cf. Lk 23, 2-5). Pilate knew that the accused was innocent, but did not act accordingly. Jesus had to hear the voices of the mob, made up mostly of supporters of Barabbas, who demanded, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Lk 23, 21)

There in the praetorium was the lapidary verse of the Johannine prologue: “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1, 11). The liturgical Improperia, or Reproaches, resound every Good Friday in the Church. They reveal the mood of Jesus: “My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!”

Fourth Mystery: The temptations

The episode of the messianic temptations of Jesus in the desert ends with these words: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time” (Lk 4, 13). That “for a time” would be frequently present until the last day.

The tormentors of the Crucified One tempted him with this challenge: “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself” (Lk 23, 37). Those who passed by questioned his divine filiation: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” (Mt 27, 40) The leaders of the people presented doubts about the love of the Father: “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him” (Mt 27, 43). For Jesus, who walked on the waters and even rescued the dead from death, it would have been easy to come down from the cross, but he would have renounced the Messianism of the suffering Servant of the Lord. That is why he suffered the temptations in silence and overcame them.

Fifth Mystery: Desolation

Jesus, dehydrated, tortured from head to toe, with eyes and mind clouded by weakness, experienced the greatest of mystical torments, the remoteness of God. To begin, he drew strength from Psalm 22: “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27, 46). To these first words of spiritual desolation, others of filial confidence would follow.

Jesus had perfectly fulfilled his salvific mission: “All things are fulfilled” (Jn 19, 30). Feeling again close to the Father, he began to pray: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23, 46).

One verse summarizes the Passion and Glory of Jesus: “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn 13, 1).

Glorified at the right hand of the Father, Jesus has already overcome all physical and spiritual suffering. But, as Pascal wrote, “Christ will be in agony until the end of the world.” Jesus continues to suffer in the members of his Mystical Body and in everyone who suffers in the human family.

Comments from readers

Rafael - 04/15/2017 11:33 AM
It is incredible Jesus - God Son - in all his despair - screams to the world - "My God.. My God.. why have you forsaken me". Jesus truly taken down to the most base human form. Jesus.. thank you... for coming down to my sorrowful level so that I can then see you eye to eye Jesus.. thank you.. I love you... (The faithful Roman Soldier who's servant was cured)
J B - 04/10/2017 12:06 PM
Greetings Fr. Eduardo Barrios and fellow parishioners, It is in humble agreement that I write you regarding Jesus torture. I submit for your perusal that not only the physical/mental but the spiritual suffering was great indeed! Just as many Saints offer up their bearing the Cross, so should we also. Luke 14: 27 And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Suffering patiently is redemptive. A loving Sacrifice. God bless you all during this Holy Week. In Mercy and In Unity,
Aida Briele - 04/10/2017 11:58 AM
Beautiful. Thank you for that perspective. God Bless
Mary Ann - 04/10/2017 09:40 AM
Dear Fr. Barrios, Thank you so much for sharing these mysteries, what a tremendous gift! I will be praying them every day of Holy Week. God bless you! Mary Ann

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