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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Stations of the Cross/PopeJPII PART 2 of 3



FIFTH STATION

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus
to carry his Cross

 
V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.


They compelled Simon (cf. Mk 15:21).
The Roman soldiers did this because they feared that in his
exhaustion the Condemned Man would not be able to carry
the Cross as far as Golgotha. Then they would not be able to
carry out the sentence of crucifixion.

They were looking for someone to help carry the Cross.

Their eyes fell on Simon.
They compelled him to take the weight upon his shoulders.
We can imagine that Simon did not want to do this
and objected. Carrying the cross together with a convict
could be considered an act offensive to the dignity
of a free man.
Although unwilling, Simon took up the Cross to help Jesus.

In a Lenten hymn we hear the words:
“Under the weight of the Cross
Jesus welcomes the Cyrenean”.

These words allow us to discern
a total change of perspective:

the divine Condemned One
is someone who,

in a certain sense,
“makes a gift” of his Cross.
Was it not he who said:
“He who does not take up his cross

and follow me is not worthy of me”

(Mt 10:38)?


Simon receives a gift.
He has become “worthy” of it.
What the crowd might see
as an offence to his dignity has,
from the perspective of redemption,
given him a new dignity.
In a unique way,
the Son of God
has made him a sharer
in his work of salvation.
Is Simon aware of this?



The evangelist Mark identifies Simon of Cyrene as the “father of Alexander and Rufus” (15:21).










If the sons of Simon of Cyrene
were known to the first Christian community,
it can be presumed that Simon too,
while carrying the Cross, came to believe in Christ.
From being forced, he freely accepted,

as though deeply touched by the words:
“Whoever does not carry his cross with me
is not worthy of me.”


By his carrying of the Cross,
Simon was brought to the knowledge
of the gospel of the Cross.
Since then, this gospel has spoken to many, countless
Cyreneans, called in the course of history
to carry the cross with Jesus.
PRAYER
O Christ, you gave to Simon of Cyrene
the dignity of carrying
your Cross.
Welcome us too under its weight,

welcome all men and women
and grant to everyone the gift of readiness to serve.
Do not permit that we should turn away from those
who are crushed by the
cross of illness, loneliness, hunger or injustice.
As we carry each other’s burdens, help us to become
witnesses to the gospel of the Cross and witnesses to you,
 who live and reign for ever and ever.
R. Amen.
All:
Our Father . . .
Stabat Mater:
 
Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?




SIXTH STATION


 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus


V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
Veronica does not appear in the Gospels.
Her name is not mentioned,
even though the names of other women
who accompanied Jesus do appear.
It is possible, therefore,
that the name refers more
to what the woman did.
In fact, according to tradition,
on the road to Calvary a woman
pushed her way through the soldiers
escorting Jesus and with a veil
wiped the sweat and blood
from the Lord’s face.
That face remained imprinted on the veil,
a faithful reflection, a “true icon”.

This would be the reason for the name Veronica.
If this is so,
the name which evokes
the memory of what this woman
did carries with it the deepest truth about her.
One day, Jesus drew the criticism of onlookers
when he defended a sinful woman who had poured
perfumed oil on his feet and dried them with her hair.



To those who objected,
 he replied: 

“Why do you trouble this woman?
For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . .
In pouring this ointment
on my body she has done it 

to prepare me for burial”
(Mt 26:10, 12).

These words could likewise be applied to Veronica.
Thus we see the profound eloquence of this event.
The Redeemer of the world presents Veronica 
with an authentic image of his face.
The veil upon which 
the face of Christ remains imprinted 
becomes a message for us.


 In a certain sense it says:



This is how every act of goodness, 

every gesture of true love towards 

one’s neighbor, strengthens the 

likeness of the Redeemer of the world 

in the one who acts that way.


Acts of love do not pass away. 

Every act of goodness, 

of understanding, of service 

 
leaves on people’s hearts 


an indelible imprint and makes us 

ever more like the One who 

“emptied himself, 

taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7).













This is what

shapes 

our identity and 

gives us our true name.





PRAYER

Lord Jesus Christ, you accepted a woman’s 

selfless gesture of love,

and in exchange ordained 

that future generations 

should remember her by

the name of your face.




Grant that our works and the works of all 

who will come after us

will make us like unto you 

and will leave in the world the reflection

of your infinite love.


To you, O Jesus, 

splendour of the Father’s glory,

be praise and glory for ever.

R. Amen.

All:

Our Father . . .



Stabat Mater:


Can the human

 heart refrain

from partaking

 in her pain,

in that

Mother’s 

untold pain?








 

SEVENTH STATION

Jesus falls the second time



















V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the 

world.


“I am a worm, and no man;

scorned by men,

and despised by the people”

Psalm 22:6


These words of the Psalm come to mind 

as we see Jesus fall

 to the ground a second time under the Cross.

Here in the dust of the earth 

lies the Condemned One. 


Crushed by the weight of his Cross. 



His strength drains away from him more and more. 

But with great effort he gets up again to continue his march.


To us sinners,

what does this second fall say? 

More than the first one,

it seems to urge us to get up, 

to get up again on our way of the cross. 


Cyprian Norwid wrote: 


“Not behind us with the Saviour’s Cross, 

but behind the Saviour with our own Cross.” 


 
A brief saying, but one that conveys much truth. 

It explains how Christianity 

is the religion of the Cross.



It tells us that every person here below meets Christ 

who carries the Cross and falls under its weight.


In his turn, Christ, on the way to Calvary, 

meets every man and woman and, 

falling under the weight of the Cross, 

does not cease to proclaim the good news.


For two
thousand years 
the gospel of the Cross
has spoken to

 man.





For twenty centuries 

Christ, 

getting up again from his fall, 

meets those who fall.

Throughout these two millennia 

many people have learned that falling 

does not mean the end of the road.



In meeting the Saviour 

they have heard his reassuring words:

“My grace is sufficient for you; 

for my power is made perfect in weakness” 

(2 Cor 12:9).




Comforted, they have gotten up again 

and brought to the world the word of hope 

which comes from the Cross.


Today, having crossed the threshold 

of the new millennium, we are called

to penetrate more deeply the meaning of this encounter.

Our generation must pass on 

to future centuries


the good news that we are lifted up 

again in Christ.



PRAYER




Lord Jesus Christ, 

you fall under the weight of human sin 

and you get up again in order 

to take it upon yourself and cancel it
Give to us, weak men and women, 

the strength to carry the cross 

of daily 

life and to get up again 

from our falls, 

so that we may bring to future 

generations the

 Gospel of your saving power. 

To you, O Jesus, 

our support when we are weak, 

be praise and glory for ever.

R. Amen.



All:

Our Father . . .



Stabat Mater:


Bruised, derided, 

cursed, defiled,

she beheld her 

tender Child,

all with bloody 

scourges rent.



EIGHTH STATION

Jesus speaks to the women of 

Jerusalem



V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed 

       the world.



Daughters of Jerusalem, 

do not weep for me,

but weep for yourselves 

and for your children.



For behold, the days are coming 

when they will say,

'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs 

that never bore,

and the breasts that never gave suck!'

Then they will begin to say to the mountains,



'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.'

For if they do this when the wood is green,


what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23:28-31).




These are the words of Jesus to the women of Jerusalem

who were weeping with compassion for the Condemned One.


“Do not weep for me, 


but weep for yourselves
and for your children.” 

At the time it was certainly difficult to understand the
 meaning of these words. 
They contained a prophecy that would soon come to pass.  
 Shortly before, Jesus had wept over Jerusalem, foretelling
the terrible fate that awaited the city.



Destruction of the Temple as Jesus Prophesied

Now he seems to be referring again to that fate: 

“Weep for your children . . .” 

Weep, because these, your very children
will be witnesses and will share in the destruction
of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem which 
“did not know the time of her visitation” 
(cf. Lk 19:44).

If, as we follow Christ on the way of the Cross, our hearts are

moved with pity for his suffering, we cannot forget that

admonition.


“For if they do this when the wood is green, 

what will happen when it is dry?”

For our generation,

which has just left 

a millennium behind,

rather than weep for Christ crucified,

it is now the time for us to recognize 

“the time of our visitation”.

Already the dawn of the 

resurrection is shining forth.





“Behold, 

now is the acceptable time;

behold, now is the day of salvation” 

(2 Cor 6:2).


To each of us Christ addresses these words 

of the book of Revelation: 



“Behold, I stand at the door
and knock; 

if any one hears my voice 

and opens the door, 

I will come in to him 

and eat with him, and he with me. 

He who conquers, 

I will grant him to sit with me 

on my throne, 

as I myself conquered 

and sat down 

with my Father on his throne.” 

(Revelation 3:20- 21).


PRAYER

O Christ, you came into this world 

to visit all those who await salvation.

Grant that our generation 

will recognize the time of its visitation

and share in the fruits of your redemption.




Do not permit that there 

should be weeping for us and 

for the men and women of the new century 
because we have rejected our merciful 
Father’s outstretched hand.

To you, O Jesus, 

born of the Virgin Daughter of Zion,

be honour and praise for ever and ever.

R. Amen.


All:

Our Father ...

Stabat Mater:

Let me share with you 

his pain who for all 
my sin was slain,

who for me 

in torments died.







NINTH STATION

Jesus falls the third time


V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.


Once more Christ has fallen to the ground
under the weight of the Cross.
The crowd watches, wondering
whether he will have the strength to rise again.



Saint Paul writes:
“Though he was in the form of God,
he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself taking the form of a servant,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself and became obedient
unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

The third fall
seems to express just this:

the self-emptying,
 the kenosis of
the Son of God,

his humiliation beneath the Cross.

Jesus had said to the disciples that he had come not to be
served but to serve (cf. Mt 20:28).

In the Upper Room, bending low to the ground and washing
their feet, he sought, as it were, to prepare them for this
humiliation of his.


Falling to the ground for the third time
on the way of the Cross,
he cries out loudly to us once more
the mystery of himself.
Let us listen to his voice!

This Condemned Man, crushed to the ground beneath the
weight of the Cross, now very near the place of punishment,
tells us:
“I am the way, and
the truth and the life
(Jn 14:6).
“He who follows me
will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life”
(Jn 8:12).
Let us not be dismayed by the sight of a condemned man,
who falls to the ground exhausted under the cross.
Within this outward sign of the death
which is approaching
the light of life lies hidden.





PRAYER


 Lord Jesus Christ,
through your humiliation beneath the Cross
you revealed to the world
the price of its redemption.
Grant to the men and women
of the third millennium
the light of faith,
so that, as they recognize in you
the Suffering Servant of God and man,
they may have the courage to follow
the same path which,
by way of the
Cross and self-emptying,
leads to life without end.
To you, O Jesus, our support when we are weak,

be honour and glory for ever.
 R. Amen.
All:
Our Father ...
Stabat Mater:
O you Mother,
fount of love!
Touch my spirit
from above,
make my heart
with yours
accord.
TENTH STATION
Jesus is stripped and offered gall and vinegar to drink

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.








“When he tasted it,
he would not drink it”
(Mt 27:34).

He did not want a sedative, which would have dulled his consciousness during the agony.
He wanted to be fully aware as he suffered
on the Cross,
accomplishing the mission
he had received from the Father.
That was not what the soldiers in charge of the execution were used to. Since they had to nail the condemned man to the Cross, they tried to dull his senses and his consciousness.
But with Christ this could not be.
Jesus knows that his death on the Cross
must be a sacrifice of expiation.
This is why he wants to remain alert to the very end.
Without consciousness, he could not, in complete freedom, accept the full measure of suffering.
Behold, he must mount the Cross, in order to offer the sacrifice of the New Covenant.
He is the Priest. By means of his own blood, he must enter the eternal dwelling-places, having accomplished the world’s redemption (cf. Heb 9:12).

Conscience and freedom:
these are the essential elements
of fully human action.
The world has so many ways of weakening the will and of darkening conscience.
They must be carefully defended from all violence.
Even the legitimate attempt
to control pain
must always be done with respect
for human dignity.

If life and death are to retain
their true value,
the depths of Christ’s sacrifice
must be understood,
and we must unite ourselves
to that sacrifice if we are to hold firm.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, who, with supreme dedication,
accepted death on the Cross
for our salvation, grant to us
and to all the world’s people a share
in your sacrifice on the Cross,
so that what we are and what we do
may always be a free and conscious
sharing in your work of salvation.
To you, O Jesus, Priest and Victim,
be honour and glory for ever.
 R. Amen.
All:
Our Father ...
Stabat Mater:
Make me feel as you have
felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ our Lord.