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Meditations on the Gospels of the Passion

Author: Gabriele Cingolani, CP
Artist: Antonio Caruso
Copyright: 2002
First Printed: 07-15-2002

Through Gospel citations, theological reflection and the experience of the average Christian, the author leads us through the Passion of Jesus, scene by scene, to reveal the profound significance of some easily overlooked details in the drama of our salvation. Beginning with the Last Supper, through the Agony in the Garden, to the trial before Annas and Caiaphas and the trial before Pontius Pilate and Herod, to the carrying of the Cross and his death on Calvary, and finally to his Resurrection three days later, Jesus manifested the love of God in a way that overturned all the false judgments that had been made against him and gave us an example to follow. Since love is revealed through the Cross, we find it easier to focus on the suffering and hence miss the glory that it likewise holds for those who love God and neighbor to the very end. It is impossible to meditate on these passages from Sacred Scripture without being profoundly moved and motivated to live the love we find in them.

About the Author: Gabriele Cingolani, CP, a Passionist priest presently stationed in Canada, was born in Recanati, Italy. An acclaimed journalist, author and lecturer, he received his theology degree from the Gregorian University. His books, among them St. Gabriel Possenti, Passionist: A Young Man in Love and Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows: Life and Prayers (Alba House, 1997), have been published by several major publishing houses in Italy and have been translated into English, Spanish and Portuguese. Among his many assignments, he has worked for Vatican Radio and in the Office of the Vatican Secretary of State, was Provincial Superior of his congregation, in charge of the Passionist formation program, and preacher of missions at home and abroad, A recent assignment in Canada included work for Radio Maria where for two years he transmitted weekly conversations on the Gospels of the Passion, from which this book has been derived.

About the Artist: Antonio Caruso, the artist responsible for the illustrations contained in this volume, was born in Serra San Bruno (Catanzaro), Italy. He attended the Carrara Academy of Bergamo and the Brera Academy of Milan. He is equally at home with painting, sculpture and graphic arts. He has participated in art shows at the international level in Lisbon, Paris, Brussels, Geneva and Madrid. His works are known in Italy, Egypt, Canada and the United States. For some years now he has been living and working in Canada.

Book: 240 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8189-0903-0
Prod. Code: 0903-X


 "Drawing on a study of the four gospel Passion narratives, this work offers a rich meditation on the sufferings of Jesus as reflected in the gospel accounts. The author, a popular preacher and writer in Canada, moves through each scene of the narrative from the Last Supper to the death of Jesus, drawing on the features provided by each evangelist. A section at the end of the volume doubles back to note the distinctive features of each of the gospel accounts as a whole. Cingolani's point is to bring the message of the Passion home to the reader, suggesting that the Scriptures be approached with a threefold format of reflection, prayer and promise (that is, the commitment to action)." --Donald Senior, C.P. in The Bible Today, Nov. 2002, vol. 40, No. 6.

          "Beginning with the Last Supper and ending with the Resurrection, these meditations on the Passion compare and contrast the four evangelists' accounts of the final events in Christ's life. A detailed, methodical examination of the Synoptic Gospels, the reflections assimilate all the information from these sources that illuminate a particular incident during Christ's agony, death, and resurrection. Meditation on God's word or the events of Christ's life -- inexhaustible in their fullness -- always yields plentiful fruit, an abundant harvest of eternal truths which remain, in Augustine's famous phrase, 'ever new and never old.' 
          Several reflections ponder the meaning of Christ's kingship: 'This is Jesus the king of the Jews' (Mt 27:37); 'The king of the Jews' (Mk 15:26); 'This is the king of the Jews' (Jn 19:19). While these statements do not overtly suggest any substantive difference in meaning or content, Father Congolani clarifies an important point: In John's Gospel, the wording ("Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews") is a new proclamation of Jesus' kingship, more solemn than the one at the conclusion of the trial in the praetorium, because it is proclaimed in the presence of the entire world and in all the languages spoken during the international occasion of the paschal feast." While the inscription of the Romans intends mockery, the words transcend their literal meaning: "The inscription is the acclamation of his royal identity. The languages are the universal proclation of his kingship.... Jesus' kingship emerges despite the rejection of the Jews and the corruption of the Romans." Insights like these show the 'living' quality of God's word as 'never old.' 
          The meditations on the Cross reveal special meaning. Father Cingolani notes that the comment of the passers-by, 'If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross,' echoes the words of Satan in the desert: 'If you are the son of God, throw yourself down.' Thus Satan makes his presence felt at Calvary by insisting on the same message that others repeat: 'Everybody tried to get rid of the cross: Peter, the disciples, the crowd, the Sanhedrin, the passers-by, the soldiers, the crucified colleagues, and Satan, the chief orchestrator.' However, the ultimate proof of Christ's kingship is the heroism of remaining on the cross rather than descending -- the logic of God's infinite love which the world regards as foolishness. 
          In another meditation Father Cingolani again emphasizes that God's miraculous ways do not correspond to spectacular magical tricks. Commenting on the apparitions of Christ after his resurrection from the tomb, he remarks that Christ does not perform as a showman who dazzles crowds. The apparitions occur 'in a simple and familial way, along the roads, in the workplace, during meals.... The risen Lord does not show off before the Roman emperor or those who had rejected him, but he goes to meet the humble ones who had followed him and had been disheartened by the apparent failure of the Passion.' These meditations capture the mystery of God's divine ways as surprises which elude human reason -- mysteries that alwyas reflect the open heart of Christ. 
          As these reflections prove, the events of the Passion never cease to amaze. Christ not only refuses to come down from the cross but also dies an ignominious death, a total failure in the eyes of the world. But the logic of divine love transcends human reason. By suffering a miserable end Christ is 'close to all who die without frills: those who die because of wars and violence; those who die without religion, who do not understand why one is born, lives, and dies.' Even when dying, Jesus commiserates with sinners and 'takes one of them with him as he leaves this world' -- proof of God's 'infinite largess' and great longing that all should be saved. 
          In these ways the meditations verify St. Paul of the Cross's statement that 'everything is encompassed in the Passion of Jesus': the burning furnace of God's love, the horror and ugliness of evil, the graces of forgiveness, and the spiritual resources to conquer the world, the flesh and the devil." --Mitchell Kalpakgian, Ph.D. in Homiletic & Pastoral Review