XII: Jesus dies upon the Cross

“There is no one left, Jesus,” mocks Gesmas the thief. A moment of profound aloneness follows, when Jesus does not experience even the Father’s love. Satan now attempts to strip Christ of His relationship with the Father. But when Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Satan is furious. No one bothers to cry out to one who is not listening. The cry of Jesus, desolate as it is, makes clear that He is still communicating with His Father.

You too some day may feel the loneliness of our Lord on the cross. If so, seek the support of Him who died and rose again. Find yourself a shelter in the wounds in His hands, in His feet, in His side. And your willingness to start again will revive, and you will take up the journey again with greater determination and effectiveness.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, The Way of the Cross

I: Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus is brought into the Praetorium. Justice is put on trial; Truth is called a liar; Love is declared hateful. All of this we do to avoid being called out of the shadow of sin. Yet somehow, in the midst of our very refusal to receive Him, He discovers a pathway into our hearts, and He determines to follow that path, knowing that it will cost Him everything.

There is a deeply rooted tendency in human beings to look at others and their failings. In doing this, we miss what is most essential: to accept and assent to God’s will in our lives, a will that is largely formed by the opposition of others to God’s will. We need only look at Jesus. It was not the Father’s will that his Son be killed, nor did he inspire anyone to kill him. He did will, however, that Jesus would freely be the sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He willed that Jesus would let himself be put to death. Jesus did not say, as we often hear today: “But this is not God’s will, this cannot be God’s will.” He said: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mk 14:36). For every one of us there is a chalice that the Father offers us to drink. We have difficulty recognizing it as coming from him, since a great deal of its contents comes from other people. Nevertheless, it is the Father who asks us to drink the bitter cup. It was so for Jesus, and it is the same for us.

Father Wilfrid Stinissen, Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us

VIII: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Jesus calls out to the women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep rather for yourselves and for your children.” Sometimes our sorrow is misdirected. We grieve because of the failings of others. Pointing out the faults of others may leave us in the pleasant shade of our own complacency, but this is a false redemption. We must call to mind the task given not to others, but to ourselves. If we wish our sorrow to be productive, we will direct it toward the one place in which we can truly effect a change: our own hearts.

Contrition… imparts to the soul of man a unique character of beauty. For it is in contrition that the new fundamental attitude of a humble and reverent charity becomes dominant and manifest, that man abandons the fortress of pride and self-sovereignty, and leaves the dreamland of levity and complacency, repairing to the place where he faces God in reality.

Dietrich von Hildebrand, “Contrition,” Transformation in Christ

V: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross

Curiosity leads Simon of Cyrene to peer through the crowd, hoping for a glance at the spectacle. What he does see fills him with revulsion: I have nothing to do with this. And yet suddenly a Roman soldier pulls him right into the center of this moment, no longer a spectator, but an intimate participant in the way of the Cross. And as he bears the Cross with Jesus, he comes to realize that this is not disgraceful, but an undeserved privilege.

Our surrender to Christ implies a readiness to let Him fully transform us, without setting any limit to the modification of our nature under His influence.

Dietrich von Hildebrand, “The Readiness to Change,” Transformation in Christ

X: Jesus is stripped of His Garments

The climb to Calvary is complete; a moment’s rest awaits. But the humiliation continues, as the guards strip Jesus of His garments. He is left naked, exposed, vulnerable. But this is the very form of love, the trustful abandonment of all defenses. Unlike Adam, who, in his nakedness, hid himself in fear, the New Adam does not seek to cover Himself. He has no one to fear: God is His loving Father.

The world seeks freedom in the accumulation of possessions and power. It forgets that the only people who are truly free are those who have nothing left to lose.
Despoiled of everything, detached from everything, they are “free from all men” and all things. It can be truly said that their death is already behind them, because all their “treasure” is now in God and in him alone.

Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom