Friday, April 6, 2012


FOR EASTER, PASSOVER CELEBRATIONS - Pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem Friday, both for the start of the Easter weekend and for the Jewish festival of Passover which reminds Jews that at the heart of Judaism is the deep yearning of God and human beings for one another. Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ, according to the Bible, followed by his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Passover commemorates the biblical Exodus from Egypt and begins at sunset. Amid tight security, hundreds of Christian worshippers took part in the annual procession along the Old City’s Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief or Way of Suffering), retracing Jesus’ last steps before his crucifixion.  Led by Franciscan Monks, the pilgrims - many carrying crosses, with some hefting full-scale replicas - stopped to pray at each Station of the Cross, which commemorate specific incidents which happened to Christ on the way to the crucifixion.

The Via Dolorosa has 14 stations, the last 9 of which are in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where, according to tradition, Christ was crucified and then buried. Police closed off some of the streets adjacent to the Via Dolorosa, causing anger among Muslim who use them to get to Friday prayers at the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary compound.  ‘I’m very excited and happy to be able to visit Jerusalem, to be see the place where Christ suffered,’ said Christine, a French pilgrim at the procession. Easter weekend commemorations had begun some hours earlier, with a procession and mass, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, led by Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, who was accompanied by consul generals of France, Spain and Italy. The Passover festival lasts 7 days in Israel, and 8 days in the rest of the world. It is ushered in with a festival meal, during which Jews are obliged to eat unleavened bread, and recount the story of the Exodus.

Today is both Good Friday and the start of Passover. Passover celebrates love. It is not the love of candy and cards, but a love where souls are ennobled. It is love deep, passionate, purposeful and true. Passover celebrates the passage of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt.  For Christians, the day recalls the crucifixion of Jesus on a hill outside Jerusalem's walls.  He was tried and crucified without mercy. He preached the consciousness of God, therefore He is our spiritual master, He is our Guru.

The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam states that any bona fide preacher of God consciousness must have the qualities of titiksā (tolerance) and karunā (compassion). In the character of Lord Jesus Christ we find both these qualities. He was so tolerant that even while he was being crucified, he didn't condemn anyone. And he was so compassionate that he prayed to God to forgive the very persons who were trying to kill him. (Of course, they could not actually kill him. But they were thinking that he could be killed, so they were committing a great offense.) As Christ was being crucified he prayed, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing”. A Vaisnava is unhappy to see the suffering of others. Therefore, Lord Jesus Christ agreed to be crucified - to free others from their suffering.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Science of Self Realization”
Chapter IV “Understanding Krishna and Christ”
“Krishna, Christos, Christ”
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

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