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Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother: Thirteenth Station




Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City
President of the Fabric of Saint Peter's



A Few Words Along the Way

In making the “Way of the Cross”, we are struck by the certainty of two things: the destructive power of sin and the healing power of God’s Love.

The destructive power of sin: the Bible never tires of repeating that evil is evil because it hurts us: sin is self-punishment; it carries its own retribution.  A few texts of Jeremiah clearly make this point: “They went after worthlessness, and became worthless themselves” (2:5); “your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you; know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you” (2:19); “your crimes have made all this go wrong, your sins have deprived you of all these favours” (5:25).

Isaiah is equally insistent: “Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: because you reject this word, and trust in oppression and deceit, and rely on them; therefore this iniquity shall become for you like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse; its crash comes suddenly, in an instant; its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a sherd is found for taking fire from the hearth, or dipping up water out of the cistern” (30:12-14).  And, voicing the deepest convictions of God’s People, the Prophet cries out: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.  We fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (64:6).

The Prophets likewise denounce the hardness of heart that leads to appalling blindness and prevents us from perceiving the gravity of sin.  Let us listen again to Jeremiah: “For from the least to the greatest of them, every one is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, every one deals falsely.  They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace.  They acted shamelessly, they committed abomination, yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush” (6:13-15).

Jesus entered into this history ravaged by sin, and took upon himself the burden and brutality of our sins.  When we look upon Jesus, we see clearly the destructive power of sin and the sickness of our human family.  Our own sickness!  Yours and mine!

Yet – and this is the second certainty – Jesus countered our pride with humility; he countered our violence with gentleness; he countered our hatred with the Love that forgives.  The Cross is the event which enables God’s Love to enter into our history, to draw close to each of us, to become a source of healing and salvation.

Let us never forget: from the beginning of his ministry Jesus had spoken of “his hour” (Jn 2:4), of the hour “for which he had come” (Jn 12:27).  It was an hour which he joyfully welcomed, when, at the beginning of his Passion, he cried out: “The hour has come!” (Jn 17:1).

The Church treasures this memory, and in the Creed, after professing that the Son of God “became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man”, she goes on to say: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried”.

For our sake he was crucified!  Jesus, at his death, embraced the tragic experience of death as it had been fashioned by our sins; yet, in his death, Jesus filled death itself with Love, he filled it with the presence of God.  By Christ’s death, death itself was vanquished, for he filled death with the one power capable of cancelling the sin that had spawned it: Jesus filled death with Love!

Through faith and Baptism, we have access to the death of Christ, to the mystery of the Love by which Christ himself tasted and conquered death ... and this in turn becomes the first step of our journey back to God, a journey which will end at the moment of our own death, a death experienced in Christ and with Christ: in Love!

As you begin this “Way of the Cross”, let Mary take you by the hand.  Ask her for just a bit of her humility and docility, so that the Love of Christ Crucified will be able to enter your heart and recreate it after God’s own Heart.

God bless you on your way!



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The Holy Father:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

R. Amen.

Lord Jesus,
your Passion
is the whole of human history:
a history where the good are humiliated,
the meek ... assaulted,
the honest ... crushed,
and the pure of heart roundly mocked.

Who will be the winner?
Who will have the last word?

Lord Jesus,
we believe that you are the last word:
in you the good have already won,
in you the meek have already triumphed,
in you the honest have received their crown,
and the pure of heart shine like stars in the night.

Lord Jesus,
tonight we walk once more the way of your cross,
knowing that it is also our way.
One certainty lights up our path:
the way does not end at the cross
but continues beyond,
to the Kingdom of Life,
to a torrent of joy,
the joy which no one can ever take from us! [1]



O Jesus, I stand in sorrow
at the foot of your cross:
I myself have helped erect it by my sins!
Your goodness which offers no resistance,
and allows itself to be crucified,
is a mystery beyond my grasp;
it leaves me profoundly troubled.

Lord, you came into the world for my sake,
to seek me out and to lead me
the Father’s loving embrace: [2]
the embrace for which I long!

You are the very Face
of beauty and of mercy:
that is why you want to save me!

Within me is so much selfishness:
come to me with your boundless love!

Within me is pride and malice:
come to me with your meekness and humility!

Lord, I am the sinner needing to be saved:
I am the prodigal son needing to return!
Lord, grant me the gift of tears,
that I may discover anew freedom and life,
peace with you, and in you, joy.

[1] Jn 16:22: Mt 5:12.
[2] Lk 15:20.


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