March 20, 2018 // Bishop's Column: In Truth and Charity

The Stations of the Cross

I love to pray the Stations of the Cross. They are a wonderful devotion for us to practice on Fridays, the day of our Lord’s crucifixion, and also during Holy Week. When we pray the Stations, the Way of the Cross, we accompany Jesus as He takes the final steps of His earthly journey, the steps that lead to Calvary. We meditate on, and think about, the condemnation of Jesus to death by crucifixion, the insults of the soldiers, the sorrow and cries of the Virgin Mary and the women of Jerusalem. We re-live this drama in our hearts.

The Passion of Our Lord is the drama of an innocent man, weighed down by human sin, by pain, by evil. This innocent man, of course, is God Himself, the Son of God who became man. He is despised and rejected. He carries the cross; He dies on it; He is taken down from it and placed in His mother’s arms; and He is laid in the tomb. We contemplate these stations that began in Pilate’s praetorium, continued along the streets of Jerusalem, culminated on the hill of Mount Calvary and ended in the tomb.

The Son of God endured this violent death not passively or as a fatal destiny. He experienced deep human distress and intense suffering: on the cross, He cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At the same time, with absolute trust, He commended Himself to the Father. On the cross, He prayed: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” 

Jesus walked the way of the cross voluntarily. He gave Himself up to death freely out of love for us, in perfect union with His Father’s will, the will that we might be saved through Him. St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians: “Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me.” Each one of us can say this. This is what the Stations of the Cross inspire us to say: that on the cross, “Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

The cross of Jesus is the real proof of how much God loves us. The way of the cross is the path of the love that triumphs over evil and unjust suffering in the world. It is the way of mercy greater than sin and the way of truth that overcomes lies and Satan, the father of lies.

When we pray the Stations of the Cross, it is good to think of all those who suffer in the world today. We pray for those who are condemned, those who are oppressed, the sick, the poor and the marginalized, and the victims of violence and abuse. The cross is a word of hope for all who suffer, and for us when we suffer. From the love of the crucified Jesus, we receive comfort, peace, consolation and mercy. And His cross gives us hope. In fact, it is our only hope.

How often we bless ourselves with the sign of the cross! It is the sign of the infinite love of God for each of us and the sign and source of our salvation. In the end, it is not a sign of defeat and death, but the sign of the victory of God’s immense love. It is the path toward the resurrection. The cross of Jesus is our hope because by His holy cross, He has redeemed the world. We exalt the cross of Jesus since by it the Evil One is overcome, death is defeated and eternal life is given to us.

During Holy Week, let us spiritually walk with Jesus along the way of the cross. In doing so, we learn from Our Lord the logic of God, which is the logic of love. This is the logic of the cross. Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, according to St. Paul, but for us who are being saved, He is the power and the wisdom of God.

Let us praise Our Lord Jesus during this Holy Week as we pray: “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”   

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