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Second Station of the Cross
Jesus takes up his Cross

with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger       
Good Friday 2005, at the Colosseum in Rome

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:27-31):
The governor's soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. After mocking him, they stripped him of the cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Jesus, condemned as an imposter king, is mocked, but in this very mockery cruelly emerges the truth. How many times the signs of power, carried by the powerful of this world, are an insult to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times their rituals and their grand words are in truth nothing but pompous lies, a caricature of the task required by their office, that of putting themselves at the service of the good! Jesus, the one who is mocked and wears the crown of suffering, is precisely for this the true King. His sceptre is justice (cf Ps 45:7). The price of justice is suffering in this world: he, the true King, does not reign by way of violence, but by way of a love which suffers for us and with us. He takes the Cross on Himself, our cross, the weight of being men, the weight of the world. And this is how he goes before us and shows us how to find the path to true life.

Lord, you let yourself be mocked and insulted. Help us not to join with those who mock those who suffer and those who are weak. Help us to recognise your face in those who are humiliated and marginalised. Help us not to be discouraged in front of the contempt of this world, when obedience to your will is ridiculed. You carried the cross and have invited us to follow you on this path (cf Mt 10:38). Help us to accept the cross, not to flee from it, not to complain and not to let our hearts be battered in front of life's hardships. Help us to travel the path of love and, by obeying its demands, to reach true joy.

Our Father ... Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, all his bitter anguish bearing, now at length the sword had passed.

Music: from 'Triduum - Contemporary Sacred Music' by David Bevan & Neil Wright.
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with Julian of Norwich      

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

So they took Jesus and he went out, bearing his own cross to the place called the place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. (John 19: 17)

And I saw that the love which made him suffer passes as far all his pains as heaven is above the earth. For his passion was a noble, precious and worshipful deed done in time by the working of love. And that love was without beginning, is now, and shall be forever. (Julian of Norwich - IX Revelation, Ch 22)

I love you Jesus, my love, above all things; I repent with my whole heart for having offended you.
Never permit me to separate myself from you again.
Grant that I may love you always, then do with me as you will.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory be.

with Pope St John Paul II in the Jubilee Year
Good Friday, 21 April 2000, at the Colosseum in Rome
- also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

The cross. The instrument of a shameful death.
It was not lawful to condemn a Roman citizen to death by crucifixion: it was too humiliating. The moment that Jesus of Nazareth took up the Cross in order to carry it to Calvary marked a turning-point in the history of the cross.

The symbol of a shameful death, reserved for the lowest classes, the cross becomes a key. From now on, with the help of this key, man will open the door of the deepest mystery of God.
Through Christ’s acceptance of the Cross, the instrument of his own self-emptying, men will come to know that God is love. Love without limits: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
This truth about God was revealed in the Cross.
Could it not have been revealed in some other way?
Perhaps. But God chose the Cross.
The Father chose the Cross for his Son, and his Son shouldered it, carried it to Mount Calvary and on it offered his life.
“In the Cross there is suffering, in the Cross there is salvation, in the Cross there is a lesson of love.
O God, he who once has understood you, desires nothing else, seeks nothing else” (Polish Lenten hymn).
The Cross is the sign of a love without limits!

Lord Jesus Christ, who accepted the Cross at the hands of men
to make of it the sign of God’s saving love for humanity,
grant us and all the men and women of our time
the grace of faith in this infinite love.
By passing on to the new millennium the sign of the Cross,
may we be authentic witnesses to the Redemption.
To you, O Jesus, Priest and Victim, be praise and glory for ever. Amen.

with Papa San Giovanni Paolo II in 2003
- also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

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.

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.
Christe, eleison.
Jesus, Servant of the Lord, by your stripes we have been healed.
R. Christe, eleison.

with St John Henry Newman

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

A strong, and therefore heavy Cross, for it is strong enough to bear Him on it when He arrives at Calvary, is placed upon His torn shoulders. He receives it gently and meekly, nay, with gladness of heart, for it is to be the salvation of mankind.

True; but recollect, that heavy Cross is the weight of our sins. As it fell upon His neck and shoulders, it came down with a shock. Alas! what a sudden, heavy weight have I laid upon Thee, O Jesus. And, though in the calm and clear foresight of Thy mind — for Thou seest all things — Thou wast fully prepared for it, yet Thy feeble frame tottered under it when it dropped down upon Thee. Ah! how great a misery is it that I have lifted up my hand against my God. How could I ever fancy He would forgive me! unless He had Himself told us that He underwent His bitter passion in order that He might forgive us. I acknowledge, O Jesus, in the anguish and agony of my heart, that my sins it was that struck Thee on the face, that bruised Thy sacred arms, that tore Thy flesh with iron rods, that nailed Thee to the Cross, and let Thee slowly die upon it.

Pater, Ave, Gloria ...
V. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
R. Have mercy on us.

May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.