For the last fourteen days of Lent, I’m posting one Station of the Cross per day, taken from Pope John Paul II’s 2003 Good Friday meditations, and Pope Benedict’s 2005 Good Friday meditations, both delivered at the Colosseum.
V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. [We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.]
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum. [Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.]
From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:20
After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
|El Greco, Christ Carrying the Cross (1580)|
The execution, the implementation of the sentence, is beginning. Christ, condemned to death, must be burdened with the Cross just like the two other men who have received the same punishment: “he was numbered with the transgressors” (Is 53:12). Christ draws near to the Cross, his body atrociously bruised and lacerated, blood running down his face from his head crowned with thorns. Ecce Homo! (Jn 19:5). In him we see all the truth foretold by the Prophets about the Son of man, the truth proclaimed by Isaiah about the servant of Yahweh: “He was wounded for our transgressions… and by his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5).
In him we see also the amazing consequence of what man has done to his God. Pilate says: “Ecce Homo” (Jn 19:5): “Look what you have done to this man!” But there seems to be another voice speaking as well, a voice that seems to be saying: “Look what you have done, in this man, to your God!”
It is very moving to hear this voice from centuries ago, as it blends with the voice coming to us from what we know in faith. Ecce Homo!
Jesus “who is called the Messiah” (Mt 27:17) takes the Cross upon his shoulders (Jn 19:17). The execution has begun.
Christ, Son of God, you reveal to man the mystery of himself. R. Christe, eleison.
Jesus, Servant of the Lord, by your stripes we have been healed. R. Christe, eleison.
|Sebastiano del Piombo,
Christ Carrying the Cross (1535)
From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:27-31,
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Jesus, condemned as an imposter king, is mocked, but this very mockery lays bare a painful truth. How often are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times are their pomps and their lofty words nothing but grandiose lies, a parody of their solemn obligation to serve the common good! It is because Jesus is mocked and wears the crown of suffering that he appears as the true King. His scepter is justice (cf. Ps 45:7). The price of justice in this world is suffering: Jesus, the true King, does not reign through violence, but through a love which suffers for us and with us. He takes up the Cross, our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world. And so he goes before us and points out to us the way which leads to true life.
Lord, you willingly subjected yourself to mockery and scorn. Help us not to ally ourselves with those who look down on the weak and suffering. Help us to acknowledge your face in the lowly and the outcast. May we never lose heart when faced with the contempt of this world, which ridicules our obedience to your will. You carried your own Cross and you ask us to follow you on this path (cf. Mt 10:38). Help us to take up the Cross, and not to shun it. May we never complain or become discouraged by life’s trials. Help us to follow the path of love and, in submitting to its demands, to find true joy.
|Second Station of the Cross,
Pfettisheim Saint Symphorian
Pater noster, …
Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem