It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two (Lk. 23:44). ⧾
In the traditional form of the Mass, the Passion narratives of all four gospels are read in the course of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday the Passion according to St Matthew is read and on Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week the accounts of St Mark and St Luke respectively. On Good Friday St. John’s Passion is read. The Passion narratives are the climax of each of the four gospels. Scholars have observed that it may be said of the gospels that they are Passion narratives with a long introduction. The Masses of these last days of Lent are lengthened by these readings but the spiritual benefit of hearing and reading these accounts and meditating on their content is immeasurable.
The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are referred to as synoptic gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence. They stand in contrast to the gospel of John, whose content may be described more thematic in its presentation. The synoptic gospels include in their narratives a detail not recorded by St John; namely, the tearing of the Temple veil at the time of Our Lord’s death on the Cross (Cf. Mt. 27:51; Mk. 15:38; Lk.23:44). This veil was 45 feet in length and four inches thick. It served as the barrier to the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence rested and where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Its rending from top to bottom was clearly an act of God but the connection between Our Lord’s death and the torn veil is not just about God’s power, it reveals who Jesus truly is and what He has done for us through His Sacrifice as the sacred author of the Epistle to the Hebrews explains: We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary of the true tent, which is set up not by man but by the Lord (Heb. 8:1-2). It also may serve as a symbol of the victory of truth. ‘For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light’ (Lk. 8:17). God is in charge, and He will not be mocked.