“What Profit Is There in My Blood?”

On the day that the Holy Church reflects on the perfect sacrificial holocaust offered by the Divine Redeemer to the Father, we are invited to meditate on how our sins weigh in Jesus’ sufferings.

Gospel of the Friday of the Passion of the Lord

Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John

Jesus went out with His disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which He and His disciples entered. Judas His betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to Him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I am.” Judas His betrayer was also with them. When He said to them, “I am,” they turned away and fell to the ground. So He again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am. So if you are looking for Me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what He had said, “I have not lost any of those You gave Me.”

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave Me?”

12 So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound Him, 13 and brought Him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. 16 But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. 17 Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and they were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

19 The high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the Temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why ask Me? Ask those who heard Me what I said to them. They know what I said.” 22 When He had said this, one of the Temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?”

24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25 Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed.

28 Then they brought Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so they could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not a criminal, we would not have handed Him over to you.” 31 At this, Pilate came out to them and said, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone,” 32 in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that He said indicating the kind of death He would die.

33 So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom does not belong to this world. If My Kingdom did belong to this world, My attendants would be fighting to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, My Kingdom is not here.” 37 So Pilate said to Him, “Then you are a King?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a King. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. 39 But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns, and placed it on His head, and clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came up to Him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him repeatedly.Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing Him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold the Man!” When the chief priests and the guards saw Him they cried out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him. I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” Jesus did not answer him. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “Do You not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release You, and I have power to crucify You?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over Me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 Consequently, Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release Him, you are not a friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and seated Him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15 They cried out, “Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 Then he handed Him over to them to be crucified.

17 So they took Jesus, and, carrying the Cross Himself, He went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the Cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” 20 Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took His tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. 24 So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says: “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.”

25 This is what the soldiers did. Standing by the Cross of Jesus were His Mother and His Mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 26 When Jesus saw His Mother and the disciple there whom He loved He said to His Mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your Mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. 28 After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” 29 There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to His mouth. 30 When Jesus had taken the wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He handed over the spirit.

31 Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for the Sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and that they be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs, 34 but one soldier thrust his lance into His side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

35 An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. 36 For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” 37 And again another passage says: “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”

38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the Body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took His Body. 39 Nicodemus, the one who had at first come to Him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. 40 They took the Body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.

41 Now in the place where He had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. 42 So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by (Jn 18:1–19:42).

I – “Behold the Man!”

Holy Church establishes the ceremony of Good Friday – the very heart of our devotion and religiosity – with extraordinary care and sensitivity. In her divine wisdom, perfection, and impeccable spirit, she chooses the Gospel of the Passion according to St. John to illuminate and strengthen faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the true Son of God. The text is so clear and eloquent that on its own it nourishes our meditation without extensive explanation. Moreover, given the length of the passage, it would be impossible to comment on it verse by verse. For this reason, we will limit ourselves to highlighting some passages that will help our spiritual progress and increase our understanding the grandeur of the Passion, a central event in the history of humanity.

Adam in his splendour

“Behold the Man!” (Jn 19:5), Pilate announced as he brought Jesus out of the praetorium after the scourging. Our Lord was covered with blood from head to foot, crowned with thorns, with a reed of derision between His bound hands, in complete and entire humility, for He is Humility. The King of the universe, the God-Man, was presented to the people as “the Man,” in the most degrading conditions possible. It is a poignant, but also richly symbolic scene.

Let us call to mind Adam, created by God as the perfect model of the human race. Every supernatural, preternatural, and natural privilege was granted to him in abundance, in proportions difficult for us to imagine. He was a magnificent man, admirable for having been moulded directly by the divine hands. Upon creating him, God could well have exclaimed in satisfaction: “Behold the man!” The very Angels, contemplating Adam in Paradise, were enchanted to see the beauty that God had conferred on him, adorning him with gifts and qualities, and giving him a high degree of participation in the divine nature. He lacked only one thing: for that grace to blossom into glory. From this life, he would pass into eternity without death, transforming faith into vision, hope into reality, and charity would be forever consummate.

“Ecce Homo” – Scala Santa, Rome

The devil’s derision when he deformed man

But satan managed to make a horror of this perfection of a man, by sin. Then, looking up at God, we can picture him scoffing and saying in reference to Adam: behold the man! Adam and Eve had become so repugnant that God expelled them from Paradise and placed Cherubim at the gate to block their entrance, because they were unworthy to live there (cf. Gn 3:23-24). Thus began the history of an unfaithful humanity, disobedient to God’s commands.

The pure and innocent victim redeemed our sins

On the opposite extreme – and what an opposite, and what an extreme! –, in this scene of the Ecce Homo, we find the true firstborn of humanity, the New Adam, incomparably more perfect than the first. His Soul, hypostatically united to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, never ceased for even a moment to be in possession of the beatific vision. So, there could exist no soul superior to His; it was holy, and never separated from the divinity. God acted like it, while it acted like God Himself. Nor could there exist a more brilliant intelligence. His supreme will adhered to everything that the understanding and the beatific vision showed Him. His most pure sensibility was of an extraordinary delicacy. Any praise would be insufficient for Him, since He was the most magnificent Man on the face of the earth.

The Father resolved to place this Man in the state of humiliation in which we see Him now, completely disfigured, “spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity” (Is 53:3), as Isaiah describes Him in the first reading. Later, He lost so much blood along the Via Sacra that it was necessary for someone to help Him carry the Cross to Calvary. And when He was nailed to it, His bones could be counted (cf. Ps 22:18). In this way, Our Lord Jesus Christ Jesus is presented as the pure and innocent victim to expiate for the deformation that sin had produced in man.

His Passion gives us an idea of the gravity of sin, which cost the Man par excellence – model for the entire order of creation – such atrocious immolation: “if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23:31). If this is God’s justice wreaked upon the Innocent One, Who took the weight of our crimes upon His shoulders, what will happen if we follow the path of enmity with God?

Justice and mercy embrace in the work of Redemption

When the wicked angels sinned in Heaven, revolting against God–“Non serviam!” (Jr 2:20)–, there was an immediate and fulminating reaction from St. Michael. Without the least vacillation, he raised himself up with all the heavenly hosts, crying out, “Quis ut Deus!” in reparation for this great offence and casting the devils into hell. God applied His justice with full rigour. “Now war arose in Heaven, Michael and his Angels fighting against the dragon […]. And the great dragon was thrown down […], and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rv 12:7, 9). Similarly, when Adam and Eve sinned, tremendous wrath fell upon them and, as a result, they were consigned to this valley of tears. It is frightful to fall under the domain of God’s justice!

At the same time, we must not forget that justice and mercy embrace and kiss on the altar upon which the Divine Victim is offered. In this way, the Cross is not only a throne of justice, but also of mercy and goodness. Because of sin, God could well have deprived us forever of participation in His nature, as He did with the rebellious angels. Nevertheless, He turned the situation around by sending His own Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Who, in the words of St. Ephrem, “broke and blunted the sword of Paradise.”1 Filled with compassion, He took on a mortal Body with martyrdom in mind, so as to make reparation for the sins of man and open to him the gates of Heaven, making Himself into the victim of divine justice. Only a God is capable of this! No creature would have the strength to go to such an extreme. Thus, divine life was brought within our reach, and today, we, the baptized, who live in God’s grace, have in our souls the seed of the beatific vision as we prepare ourselves for eternal happiness.

II – The Defeat of the Power of Darkness

The Gospels make it clear that in the Passion everything happened in accordance with the will of God the Father and with the full consent of Our Lord Jesus Christ. By virtue of His divine knowledge, His beatific knowledge and His infused knowledge, He knew what awaited Him in a perfect and detailed manner. He, all-powerful, commanded the winds, the seas, and the storms; He had power over aliments, multiplying the loaves and fishes; He walked upon the water, and resurrected the dead… Nevertheless, He accepted everything with the resignation of a lamb, without uttering a complaint.

Adam and Eve are expelled from Paradise (detail from the Annunciation), by Fra Angelico, Prado Museum, Madrid

Grand manifestation of Jesus’ power

When they sought Him in the Garden of Olives, He responded: “I am” (Jn 18:5). The soldiers drew back and fell to the ground. What did this mean? The Lord wished to prove, even to His enemies, that He was giving Himself up of His own accord. He had already sweated blood (cf. Lk 22:44) and prostrated Himself on the ground, greatly distressed and troubled (cf. Mk 14:33); He had already prayed to the Father beseeching: “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done” (Lk 22:42); and had already shown His weakness to the alarmed Apostles. However, in declaring “I am,” the Divine Master wanted to make it clear that, if He wished, He could discontinue the Passion with that act, making the soldiers, together with Pilate, Herod and the Sanhedrin, return to nothingness. To further accentuate this note of omnipotence, He even said to St. Peter: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of Angels?” (Mt 26:53). Thus, the Passion began with a majestic manifestation of Jesus Christ’s divinity.

In the presence of Annas

Arrested, He is brutally led to Annas to be interrogated. On this occasion, He testifies: “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the Temple area where all Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. They know what I said” (Jn 18:20-21). In response, He received a blow… They knew His doctrine very well, for they had followed Him every step along the way, with more attention and interest than anyone.

Regarding this, St. Augustine comments: “The very things which they had heard without understanding, were such as could not with justice or truth be turned into a criminal charge against Him: and as often as they tried by their questions to find something whereof to accuse Him, He gave them such replies as utterly thwarted all their plots, and left no ground for the calumnies they devised.”2

Immeasurable dynamism of evil

As the scenes of the Passion unfold and the humiliations and offences against Our Lord multiply, we are gripped with deep indignation. In the Gospel of St. John, we glimpse a reality that prompts us to ask if it had not been his intention to demonstrate the great dynamism of evil. Indeed, evil would have succeeded in triumphing over the Church, had it not been for the promise of the Divine Master: “the powers of death will not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). Without the grace of God and His direct intervention, no one would have the strength to resist the devil’s fury, for, as St. Peter Chrysologus says, his insatiable cruelty “is not satisfied that men become corrupt, but turns them into promoters of vice and teachers of delinquency.”3 There was the Author of grace, the Saviour, God Incarnate! What evil did against Him is incalculable. Faced with this reality, one can understand the reaction of Clovis, King of the Franks, who, upon hearing the narration of the Passion from St. Remigius exclaimed in outrage: “Ah, if only I had been there with my Franks!”4 But Clovis, without the help of grace, would also have been shouting: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” For man, after original sin, is capable of all crimes, even the greatest of crimes – the deicide. Nevertheless, Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His death on the Cross, defeated the power of darkness and destroyed its vigour and capacity of diffusion.

III – Have We Played a Part in Jesus’ Sufferings?

We, too, perhaps without realizing it, contribute to this grave injustice each time we sin. How important it is for us to remember this when the devil tempts us, or our inclinations entice us to evil! In effect, we strike Jesus just as His cruel executioners did. Sin is, to a certain extent, a participation in the deicide. If all men, from Adam and Eve until the last, had persevered, and one of us were the sole perpetrator of a single fault, that one would be responsible for these torments, for Jesus would have taken on flesh and suffered all of this, even if only for that one.

Model of chastity, poverty, and obedience

Let us examine some episodes of His terrible Passion. What did they do to Him? They tore off His clothes. As Our Lord Jesus Christ is the archetype for all humanity, His sense of modesty is the most excellent possible. What must He have felt interiorly as He underwent this horrendous experience? He permitted this humiliation to make reparation for the sins of sensuality. How many aberrations of ostentation in clothing and excesses in fashion, due to vanity! What loss of moral sense and modesty as a result! And us, how do we control our sensuality? Do we make an effort to avoid near occasions of sin?

Jesus before Caiaphas, from the studio of Martin Schongauer – Unterlinden Museum, Colmar (France)

Despoiled of His garments, He, the King of the universe, was left with nothing in His possession. They left Him only a contemptuous symbol of His royalty – the crown of thorns. And how attached are we to earthly goods?

In the Passion, the Saviour also wanted to be a model of obedience for us. Despite the violence committed against Him, He submitted to everything showing not the least inconformity or resistance, in expiation for our disobedience to the Law of God and legitimately constituted authorities.

The psalmist’s phrase, “Quæ utilitas in sanguine meo? – What profit is there in My blood?” (Ps 29:10) can be applied to Our Lord. This question resounds not only in the Passion, but today: what profit is there in Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Blood for us, in the twenty-first century? What profit does this Blood have for me? This most precious Blood poured out, until the last drop, for me!

Pilate, typical example of lukewarmness

We are shocked with Pilate’s response to hearing the following affirmation from Jesus’ lips: “My Kingdom does not belong to this world. […] For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice” (Jn 18:36-37). This governor – a weak, mediocre, vulgar and worldly man, an opportunist – rejected, at that moment, an invitation to belong to this other Kingdom… “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38), he asked, and then walked away. It is likely that, in the depth of his soul, he felt the desire to clearly know the truth, but he perceived that Our Lord’s answer would oblige him to be completely honest and to forsake the sophisms which he had concocted to cover his guilt with a variety of spurious veils. Pilate knew that he could not condemn Our Lord and he looked for a way out, to be at peace with his conscience.

Justifying evil leads us to the worst sins

Pilate is the perfect image of those who concoct increasingly obscure excuses to quiet their conscience, until they lower themselves to the point of committing sin. Since man is intrinsically logical and never practices evil for evil’s sake, he always seeks an explanation to justify his crime. How often do we sin, certain that this was not the right path to have taken! How many consciences have become deformed, after the manner of Pilate’s, for not wanting to accept the truth as it is!

Further on, his conscience troubled him when he heard that Our Lord had called Himself the Son of God, so Pilate asked Him: “Where are You from?” (Jn 19:9). But Jesus did not answer him, for when consciences become lax, the Lord no longer speaks to them. Only in the end does He offer one last chance, reminding him: “You would have no power over Me if it had not been given you from above. For this reason the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin” (Jn 19:11). And St. John adds: “Consequently, Pilate tried to release Him” (Jn 19:12). However… a conscience without integrity is dragged along by depraved public opinion, by bad companions, by the devil, until it veers off course and falls into the abyss. This is what happened to Pilate in his tepidity: he washed his hands and ended up condemning Jesus, but without wanting to take responsibility for His death. “I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood; see to it yourselves” (Mt 27:24). This incoherent attitude will be recalled in the Creed until the end of time: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

Incoherent to the extreme. The courage that he lacked to confront the Sanhedrin and to save Our Lord’s life, which was in his hands – despite being warned by his wife (cf. Mt 27:19), by the voice of grace and by Jesus’ very presence – he regained when the Jews protested the inscription fastened to the Cross: “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews” (Jn 19:19). In this trifling and secondary matter he shows rock-solid firmness and imposes his authority. And us? Are we demanding about trivial things and negligent when it comes to grave and important issues?

Good Friday ceremony, presided by Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias – Our Lady of the Rosary Basilica, Caieiras (SP), 14/4/2014

An appropriate day for a good examination of conscience

We could go over each of the episodes in this sublime narration of the Passion and draw more conclusions from them for an examination of conscience… in an endless article. Instead, let us make use of what has been covered until this point to ardently ask the grace of making reparation for all of this through good works and, above all, through a horror of sin. Isn’t it time, recalling Our Lord’s Passion and Death, to make a serious resolution to amend our lives, to cut with our whims and errors and transform our lives into an act of atonement for everything that Jesus suffered? Let us have such true repentance for our faults, and such a supernatural spirit, that we ask for holiness with a sincere heart – a holiness which is not so much the result of personal effort, but rather the grace of God. We should implore it insistently, for the Saviour has already won it for us on this day, from the height of Calvary. “By the tree of the Cross, you were given back much greater goods than those you lamented having lost by the tree of Paradise.”5

May I dedicate myself entirely to embracing a life of virtue, of purity, humility and obedience – in a word, of holiness in order keep the Mother of Jesus company at the foot of the Cross. 



1 ST. EPHREM OF NISIBIS. Himnos sobre el Paraiso, 2, 1, apud ODEN, Thomas C.; LOUTH, Andrew; CONTI, Marco. La Biblia comentada por los Padres de la Iglesia, vol. I: Génesis 1-11. Madrid: Ciudad Nueva, 2001, p.163.

2 ST. AUGUSTINE. In Ioannis Evangelium, tract. CXIII, n.3. In: Obras, vol.XIV. (Ed.3). Madrid: BAC, 2009, p.845.

3 ST. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS. Sermo II (De duobus filiis prodigo et frugi, II), n.5. In: Homilías Escogidas. Madrid: Ciudad Nueva, 1998, p.50.

4 FRÉDÉGAIRE, III, 21, apud KURTH, Godefroid. Clovis. Paris: Jules Taillandier, 1978, p.297.

5 ST. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS. Sermo LX (De Symbolum Apostolorum, V), n.8. In: Homilías Escogidas, op. cit., p.186.



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