In the days leading up to Good Friday, ZENIT will republish the texts for the Via Crucis that Pope Francis will lead in the Colosseum.
The texts this year were prepared by Lebanese young people under the guidance of the patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï.
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“A man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” (Mk 10:17).
Jesus answered this burning question, which arises in the innermost core of our being, by walking the way of the Cross.
We contemplate you, Lord, along this path which you were the first to tread, and after which “you built a bridge to death with your Cross, so that men might pass from the land of death to the land of Life” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homily).
The call to follow you is addressed to all, especially to the young and to those who are tried by division, wars or injustice and who fight to be signs of hope and builders of peace in the midst of their brethren.
We therefore place ourselves before you with love, we present our sufferings to you, we turn our gaze and our heart to your Holy Cross, and strengthened by your promise, we pray: “Blessed be our Redeemer, who has given us life by his death. O Redeemer, realize in us the mystery of your redemption, through your passion, death and resurrection” (Maronite Liturgy).
I Station: Jesus is condemned to death
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 15:12-13, 15
Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
From Pilate, the man with power, Jesus ought to have obtained justice. Pilate did indeed have the power to recognize Jesus’ innocence and free him. But the Roman Governor preferred to serve the logic of his personal interests and he yielded to political and social pressures. He condemned an innocent man in order to please the crowd, without satisfying truth. He handed Jesus over to the torment of the Cross, knowing that he was innocent … and then he washed his hands.
In today’s world, there are many “Pilates” who keep their hands on the levers of power and make use of them in order to serve the strongest. There are many who are weak and cowardly before the spectre of power, and mortgage their authority to the service of injustice, trampling upon man’s dignity and his right to life.
do not allow us
to be among those who act unjustly.
Do not allow the strong
to take pleasure in evil,
injustice and tyranny.
Do not allow injustice
to condemn the innocent
to despair and death.
Confirm them in hope
and illumine the consciences
of those with authority in this world,
that they may govern with justice.
II Station: Jesus takes up the Cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 15:20
When 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.
Jesus Christ stands before soldiers who think they have complete power over him, while he is the One through whom “all things were made … and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn 1:3).
In every age, man has thought he could take the place of God and determine for himself what is good and what is evil (cf. Gen 3:5) without reference to his Creator and Saviour. He has thought himself omnipotent, capable of excluding God from his own life and from that of his peers, in the name of reason, power or money.
Today too, the world bows to realities that seek to expel God from human life, such as the blind secularism that suffocates the values of faith and morals in the name of an alleged defence of man; or the violent fundamentalism that claims to be defending religious values (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 29).
who accepted humiliation
and stood alongside the weak,
we entrust to you
all who are humiliated and suffering,
especially those from the tormented East.
Grant that they may find in you
the strength to be able to carry
their Cross of hope with you.
We place into your hands
all who are lost,
so that, thanks to you,
they may find truth and love.
III Station: Jesus falls for the first time
A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah 53:5
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.
He who holds the lights of heaven in his divine hand and before whom the powers of heaven tremble: see him falling to the ground, without protecting himself, under the heavy yoke of the Cross.
He who brought peace to the world, wounded by our sins, falls under the burden of our guilt.
“O ye faithful, behold our Saviour as he moves forward along the path to Calvary. Oppressed by bitter sufferings, his strength abandons him. Let us go to see this incredible event that surpasses our understanding and defies description. The foundations of the earth were shaken and a dreadful fear took hold of those who were present when their Creator and God was crushed under the weight of the Cross and let himself be led to death, for love of all humanity” (Chaldean Liturgy).
raise us from our own falls,
lead our wandering spirit
back to your Truth.
Do not allow human reason,
which you created for yourself,
to be satisfied with the partial truths
of science and technology
without seeking to pose the fundamental questions
of the meaning of our existence
(cf. Porta Fidei, 12).
that we may open ourselves to the action of your Holy Spirit,
so that he may lead us to the fullness of Truth.
IV Station: Jesus meets his mother
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 2:34-35, 51b
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” His mother kept all these things in her heart.
Wounded and suffering, carrying mankind’s Cross, Jesus meets his mother and, in her face, all mankind.
Mary the Mother of God was the first disciple of the Master. In accepting the Angel’s message, she encountered the Incarnate Word for the first time and became the Temple of the living God. She met him without understanding how the Creator of heaven and earth could have wanted to choose a young girl, a fragile creature, in order to become incarnate in this world. She met him in a constant search for his face, mediating on the word in the silence of her heart. She thought she was seeking him, but in reality, it was he who was seeking her.
Now he encounters her as he carries the Cross.
Jesus suffers on seeing his mother suffer, as does Mary on seeing her Son suffer. But from this shared suffering a new humanity is born. “Salam to you! We implore you, holy and glorious ever-Virgin, Mother of God, Mother of Christ. Let our prayer rise up before your beloved Son, that he may forgive our sins” (Theotikon from the Horologion, Al-Aghbia, 37).
in our families we too experience
the sufferings caused to children by their parents
and to parents by their children.
Lord, grant that in these difficult times
our families may be places of your presence,
so that our sufferings may be turned to joy.
Support our families
and make them oases of love,
peace and serenity,
in the image of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
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