Good Friday – Via Crucis

Good Friday is the day of greatest hope, Benedict XVI said tonight at the end of the Way of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum. Speaking from atop the Palatine hill, he noted that during the Via Crucis one rediscovers “how profound is the love [Christ] has had, and has for us.”

“This night we have contemplated Jesus’ face full of pain, ridiculed, insulted, disfigured by the sin of man,” the Pontiff continued. “Tomorrow night we will contemplate his face full of joy, radiant and luminous.

He continued: “From the day on which Christ was raised up on it, the cross, which looks like a sign of abandonment, loneliness and failure, has become a new beginning. From the depths of death is raised up the promise of eternal life; upon the cross already shines the victorious splendor of the Easter dawn.”

The Pope reflected on how the Church now waits for Easter Sunday, for “the dawn of the third day, the dawn of the victory of the love of God, the dawn of the light that enables the eyes of the heart to see life, difficulties and suffering in a new way.”

Full Papal Text

Dear brothers and sisters,

In prayer, with stirred and recollected spirits, we have tonight retraced the path of the cross. With Christ we have climbed Calvary and we have meditated on his suffering, rediscovering how profound is the love he has had and has for us.

But in this moment we do not want to limit ourselves to a compassion dictated merely by our weak sentiments. Rather we want to feel that we participate in the suffering of Jesus; we want to accompany our Teacher, sharing his passion in our lives, in the life of the Church, for the life of the world. Because we know that precisely in the cross, in the limitless love where one gives all of himself, is the fount of grace, liberation, peace and salvation.

The texts, meditations and prayers of the Way of the Cross have helped us to gaze upon this mystery of the Passion, to learn the immense lesson of love that God gave us on the cross, so that in us is born a renewed desire to convert our hearts, living each day this same love, the only force capable of changing the world.

This night we have contemplated Jesus’ face full of pain, ridiculed, insulted, disfigured by the sin of man. Tomorrow night we will contemplate his face full of joy, radiant and luminous. Since the moment Christ was placed in the sepulcher, the tomb and death are no longer hopeless places where history is closed with the most complete failure, where man touches the ultimate limit of his powerlessness. Good Friday is the day of greatest hope, that matured on the cross.

While Jesus dies, while he exhales his breath, he sighs crying out with a loud voice, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Surrendering his existence, given into the hands of the Father, he knows that his death becomes fount of life. As the seed in the ground has to be broken so the plant can grow. If the grain of wheat fallen in the earth does not die, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Jesus is the grain of wheat that falls in the earth, is torn, is broken, dies, and because of this, can bear fruit. From the day on which Christ was raised up on it, the cross, which looks like a sign of abandonment, loneliness and failure, has become a new beginning. From the depths of death is raised up the promise of eternal life; upon the cross already shines the victorious splendor of the Easter dawn.

In the silence that envelops this night, in the silence that envelops Hoy Saturday, touched by the limitless love of God, we live awaiting the dawn of the third day, the dawn of the victory of the love of God, the dawn of the light that enables the eyes of the heart to see life, difficulties and suffering in a new way. Our failures, our disillusions, our bitternesses that seem to signal the collapse of everything, are enlightened by hope. The act of love of the cross, confirmed by the Father and the radiant light of the resurrection, envelops and transforms everything. From betrayal, friendship can be born; from rejection, pardon; from hate, love.

Grant us, Lord, to carry our cross with love, our daily crosses, in the certainty that they are enlightened with the radiance of your Easter. Amen.

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2010 (Zenit.org)