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

XIII: Jesus is laid in the arms of His Blessed Mother

At the foot of the Cross, Mary lovingly receives the lifeless body of her Son. She kisses Him, and then gazes out at us as she holds Him. Her eyes are filled with grief but no bitterness. “This is for you,” her eyes say to us. She is the gracious hostess of the divine meal, expressing a hospitality that has cost her everything.

Mary is… the Mother of Mercy because it is to her that Jesus entrusts his Church and all humanity. At the foot of the Cross, when she accepts John as her son, when she asks, together with Christ, forgiveness from the Father for those who do not know what they do, Mary experiences, in perfect docility to the Spirit, the richness and the
universality of God’s love, which opens her heart and enables it to embrace the entire human race. Thus Mary becomes, for each and every one of us, the Mother who obtains for us divine mercy.

Saint Pope John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth

III: Jesus falls under the weight of the Cross the first time

Jesus stumbles on the uneven ground: the uneven ground of the human heart. Some wave palms before Him, and others lash Him with whips. The human heart can be weak and uncertain, but Jesus loves all people with the heart of His Father, and finds the courage to rise again. Unsteady ground will not put an end to His pilgrimage.

What then is man, if you do not visit him? Remember, Lord, that you have made me as one who is weak, that you formed me from dust. How can I stand, if you do not constantly look upon me, to strengthen this clay, so that my strength may proceed from your face?

Saint Ambrose of Milan, De Interpellatione David

 

VI: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus

Veronica boldly steps forward to offer some relief. No one stops her: the guards are too consumed with the chaos of the crowds. Jesus accepts this gesture gratefully, and wipes His Face on her cloth. The cloth receives the imprint of the New Adam. We, too, received that imprint when the waters of baptism poured down on us. In the veil of Veronica, we see, as in a mirror, our true selves and our high calling.

Remember, Christian, the surpassing worth of the wisdom that is yours. Bear in mind the kind of school in which you are to learn your skills, the rewards to which you are called. Mercy itself wishes you to be merciful, righteousness itself wishes you to be righteous, so that the Creator may shine forth in his creature, and the image of God be reflected in the mirror of the human heart…. The faith of those who live their faith is a serene faith. What you long for will be given you; what you love will be yours forever.

Saint Pope Leo the Great, from a sermon on the Beatitudes

…Let us visit Christ whenever we may; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal, as some have done, or by anointing him, as Mary did, or only by lending him a tomb, like Joseph of Arimathea, or by arranging for his burial, like Nicodemus, who loved Christ half-heartedly, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi before all these others. The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Gregory of Nazianzen, bishop, from a sermon entitled De pauperum amore

IX: Jesus falls the third time

Jesus suffers another fall. In His eyes, it is not cause for despair, but only another invitation to heroic love, to a rising above the situation. Love does not stop to measure or complain, but presses on to fulfillment.

That voice you hear within you: ‘What a heavy yoke you have freely taken upon yourself!’ … is the voice of the devil; the heavy burden… of your pride.
Ask our Lord for humility, and you too will understand those words of Jesus, which I like to translate freely, as follows: ‘my yoke is freedom, my yoke is love, my yoke is unity, my yoke is life, my yoke is fruitfulness.’

Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way of the Cross