The Face of Christ, the Face of Man

This evening Pope Francis will lead the Way of the Cross at the Coliseum. The following are a few snippets from the text  of some of the stations. The text was written by  Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini of Campobasso-Boiano. The parts quoted here give a contemporary dimension to suffering and death of Jesus.

FIRST STATION: Jesus is condemned to death

Fingers pointed in accusation

“Jesus’ hasty condemnation thus embraces the easy accusations, the superficial judgements of the crowd, the insinuations and the prejudices which harden hearts and create a culture of racism and exclusion, a throw-away culture of anonymous letters and vicious slanders. Once we are accused, our name is immediately splayed across the front page; once acquitted, it ends up on the last!

And what about us? Will we have a clear, upright and responsible conscience, one which never forsakes the innocent but courageously takes the side of the weak, resisting injustice and defending truth whenever it is violated?”

FOURTH STATION: Jesus meets his Mother

Tears of solidarity

“Tears of bitterness! Tears of solidarity with the suffering of their children! Mothers keeping watch by night, their lamps lit, anxious and worried for their young who lack prospects or who fall into the abyss of drugs or alcohol, especially on Saturday nights!”

SIXTH STATION: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

A woman’s tender love

“Here the Lord embodies our need for love freely given, for the knowledge that we are loved and kept safe by acts of kindness and concern. … Veronica is able to touch the gentle Jesus, to feel something of his radiance. Not only to alleviate his pain, but to share in his suffering. In Jesus, she sees all our neighbours who need to be consoled with a tender touch, and comes to hear the cries of pain of all those who, in our own day, receive neither practical assistance nor the warmth of compassion.”

SEVENTH STATION: Jesus falls for the second time

“The anguish of imprisonment and torture

In him we glimpse the bitter experience of those locked in prisons of every sort, with all their inhumane contradictions. Confined and surrounded, “pushed hard” and “falling”. Prisons today continue to be set apart, overlooked, rejected by society. Marked by bureaucratic nightmares and justice delayed. Punishment is doubled by overcrowding: an aggravated penalty, an unjust affliction, one which consumes flesh and bone. Some – too many! – do not survive… And when one of our brothers and sisters is released, we still see them as “ex-convicts”, and we bar before them the doors of social and economic redemption.

More serious is the practice of torture, which tragically is still practiced in different ways throughout our world. As it was in the case of Jesus, beaten, reviled by the soldiers, tortured with a crown of thorns, cruelly flogged.”

TENTH STATION : Jesus is stripped of his garments

Unity and dignity

“In Jesus, innocent, stripped and tortured, we see the outraged dignity of all the innocent, especially the little ones. God did not prevent his naked body from being exposed on the cross. He did this in order to redeem every abuse wrongly concealed, and to show that he, God, is irrevocably and unreservedly on the side of victims.”

 ELEVENTH STATION: Jesus is crucified

At the bedside of the sick

“May we never use our hands to inflict harm, but only to draw near, to comfort and to accompany the sick, raising them from their bed of pain. Sickness does not ask permission. It always comes unannounced. At times it upsets us, it narrows our horizons, it tests our hope. It is a bitter gall. Only if we find at our side someone able to listen to us, to remain close to us, to sit at our bedside… can sickness become a great school of wisdom, an encounter with God, who is ever patient.”

FOURTEENTH STATION: Jesus is laid in the tomb

The new garden

“That garden, with the tomb in which Jesus was buried, makes us think of another garden: the garden of Eden. A garden which through disobedience lost its beauty and became a wilderness, a place of death where once there was life.

The overgrown branches which block us from savouring the fragrance of God’s will – our attachment to money, our pride, our squandering of human lives – must now be trimmed back and grafted onto the wood of the Cross. This is the new garden: the cross planted upon the earth!”

While reading this text please remember that this is only the first part of the story. Saturday night we celebrate its second part: the Resurrection.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us