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Tuesday 16 - WAY OF THE CROSS



Our Lord has also formed His Church through the path of the Way of the Cross. While he was climbing up Calvary, it was as if he were saying: "Take up your cross and follow me... I am the Way...". We priests are particularly invited to walk along this path, the Way of the Cross. Every day we are immersed in its mystery, the mystery of sacrifice. But we know that this mystery is not fulfilled with death, but rather by with the new life of the resurrection.

The Church has almost always walked along the way of the Cross of sacrifice. She also did so in the past century throughout the world, in all the continents; in America, Asia, Africa but above all in Europe. In many nations her believers, priests and missionaries have walked for years towards Golgotha, bearing the cross of sacrifice and persecution. Many of us priests have walked along the steep way of the Cross and have carried the cross of persecution in the hard work of labourers and slaves, in the terrible police interrogations with eyes blindfolded and chains on our hands and feet, as well as in court trials. The Church has carried the cross for long years in prisons throughout the world, even in civilised Europe and her civilised nations, which she had instructed and educated in previous centuries.

The Way of the Cross of the Church and her faithful continues always. Emperors have changed, enemies have changed and judges have changed. The cross, however, is still on our shoulders. Sometimes we almost fall down under its weight. While before Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry the cross, in our case it is the Lord Himself, crucified and arisen, who helps us to carry our cross. Our suffering also His suffering, our sacrifice is also His sacrifice.

The Way of the Cross of Jesus was the first but not the last. The life of each one of us, if it is a life in the following of Christ, is also the following of His Way of the Cross. The Church has not forgotten the Way of the Cross in the liturgy. Believers continuously return to it with the faith of centuries past, from the Coliseum in Rome to the most modest little parish church.

The Way of the Cross is for us the school of Christian life. Jesus falls and gets up again. He bears solitude. And He forgives... The Way of the Cross is a holy school of life.

Along the Way of the Cross the Mother meets her Son. She has walked in silence. What can the Mother and the Son tell us? They were alone in the world. Their eyes met and they saw one another in the heart. What that look said they only know. And the Father who is in heaven.

They were joined by a strong, deep and pure love that has since changed the world. May the Lord grant that you love your Mother’s also penetrate us! At the end of the Way of the Cross, in this Jubilee encounter of priests from throughout the world, we renew our priestly vows. This is not by chance.

It has a profound significance. We renew the promises as if we were on top of Golgotha, under the cross, where the greatest force of the world was and is concentrated: the love of God in the Son of God Jesus Christ.

This love of God has not ended, is not extinguished and has not ceased being the saving force of our world even for a moment. With the words "Father, in your hands I give up my spirit", Jesus offered His life to the Father as a sacrifice, and this was accepted. We priests also hand over our lives with Jesus in the hands of God and live it with Him. His sacrifice on the cross is an enormous force of the world preserved in the Church as the Eucharist, a source of love in this world. Tomorrow, together with the Successor of Peter, we shall celebrate the Eucharist as an inexhaustible force of love. With him we go up along the Way of the Cross to the top of Golgotha under the cross, towards Christ. His death as a sacrifice has become His glory in which we participate through the living mystery of the Eucharist. Our tasks as priests is to guide individuals and the nations so that they do not turn away from each other but look at one another face to face in mutual comprehension.

Years after our priestly ordination much has changed: our age, our health, our experiences. The substance has not changed, however. We are priests of God for eternity. We must always be guided by the same faith and the same love, we must have the same mission, the same confidence. The same Lord directs us in love towards prayer, the people, the Church. The same Holy Spirit directs us. We are protected by the same Mother of the Lord. Now let us renew this immense patrimony of faith as priests of Christ of all the continents!