Thursday, 21 July 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 154.

The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920

As Joseph of Arimathea was returning from the funeral that evening, the leaders of the Jews arrested him, and ordered him to be put in prison, till the first day of the week, saying: "Know that the time does not allow us to do anything against thee, because the Sabbath is dawning. And know that thou shalt not be deemed worthy of burial, but we shall give thy flesh to the birds of the air." (1 Kings xvii. 44) Joseph said to them: " These are the words of the arrogant Goliath, who reproached the living God and holy David." (Gospel of Nicodemus, c. 16) Joseph bitterly condemned them for the crime they committed that day. " And the Jews hearing these words, were embittered in their souls, and seized Joseph and locked him in a room, where there was no window, and the guards were stationed at the door, and they sealed the door where Joseph was locked in."

They held a meeting of the Sanhedrin, and condemned him to death. But Sunday morning, a great light filled Joseph's prison, and a form appeared to him, clothed as with the sun. And Joseph thought it was Elias. But it was Jesus. " And he wiped my face, and kissed me, and said to me, 'Fear not, Joseph, open thine eyes, and see who it is that speaks to thee.' And looking up I saw Jesus . . and I said to him. 'Who art thou, my Lord ?' And he said to me. 'I am Jesus, whose body thou didst beg from Pilate.' And the Lord delivered him out of prison, and told him that he would go to Galilee to meet the Apostles there." (Gospel of Nicodemus, c. 16)

Joseph retired to his own summer home in Arimathea. The members of the Sanhedrin sent to his prison Sunday morning, but great was their surprise when they found he had been delivered. Later we will tell what befell him. Let us return to Calvary.

Leaving the two bands of guards round the tomb of the dead Christ, his followers returned to Sion. In the Cenacle they gathered after sunset for the synagogue services, which began the great Sabbath within the Passover. In the large room where the night before the Lord celebrated the Last Supper, they assembled in fear and trembling! Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were the leaders of that synagogue, but history records not the Rabbi was who read the Service. James lived a quarter of a mile to the north, while later he was bishop of Jerusalem. On the corner across from James' house, at the corner of the street running east and west, Thomas later lived. James was a Temple priest; perhaps he led the prayers.

In the gloaming they all said the evening prayers, the women separated from the men, as was the custom. Deep was their grief for their dead Leader. Fast fell their tears. Mournful was the meeting, as the prophet foretold: " I will pour out on the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of prayer, and they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as the man ner is to grieve for the death of the first-born. In that day there shall be a great lamentation in Jerusalem." (Zacharias xii. 10, 11.)

The Cenacle then, as in our day, formed a large pile of buildings. The Virgin Mother with her friends had rooms where they retired to rest that night, still meditating on the words of the prophets : " Whom hast thou reproached, and whom hast thou blasphemed, and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thy eyes on high ? Against the Holy One of Israel." (Isaias xxxvii, 23.) " Let my eyes shed down tears night and day, and let them not cease, because the virgin daughter of my people is afflicted with a great affliction, with an exceeding grievous evil." (Jeremias xiv. 17) Among the Jews the nearest of kin put on sackcloth and ashes, and the Mother of the dead Lord clothed herself according to the customs of her people, to fulfil the prophet's words : " Gird thee with sackcloth, O daughter of my people, and sprinkle thee with ashes, make thy mourning as for an only son, a bitter lamentation." (Jeremias vi. 26)