We adore you , O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross and resurrection you have redeemed the world.
I: The Last Supper
The Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he have given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Every time, then, you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes!
Lord Jesus, you loved us to the utmost. You loved us to the end. You remain in the Eucharist to be for us the food and drink that give eternal life. You remain with us to be the continuous sign of God’s saving presence in all circumstances of life.
Forgive us, Lord, for the times we have failed to appreciate your gift of self to us and your loving presence in the Eucharist.
II: The Agony in Gethsemani
Jesus went out and made his way, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives. His disciples accompanied him. On reaching the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, then went down on his knees and prayed in these words: “Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” In his anguish he prayed with even greater intensity, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. Then he rose from prayer and came to his disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted with grief.
It was a long, terrible night, Lord. And not one of your disciples found the strength to keep you company in your agony. Your only strength was your determination to do the Father’s will at all costs.
And your solitary agony continues, even to this day, in the loneliness of those who have no friends, no home, no hope, no future. Our society is filled with them, but we pretend not to know, and slumber noisily while they die victims of neglect.
III: Jesus before the Sanhedrin
The high priest stood up before the court and interrogated Jesus: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Then Jesus answered: “I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven.” At that the high priest tore his robes and said: “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They all concurred in the verdict “guilty”, with its sentence of death.
As soon as it was daybreak the chief priests, with the elders and scribes bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Lord Jesus, you are the judge of all human beings, yet you accepted to be judged by biased judges. You are the all-holy, the only innocent on earth, yet you endured the condemnation of the obstinate sinners.
And the unfair trial goes on, duplicated in all unjust sentences through which innocent people are condemned and rascals are acquitted. You are still the victim of these injustices perpetuated against the weak, the defenseless, the voiceless of our society, in whom you continue to live and suffer.
IV: The Scourging and Crowning with Thorns
Pilate asked the crowd: “What am I to do with Jesus, the so-called Messiah?” They all shouted, “Crucify him!” He said, “Why, what crime has he committed? But they shouted the louder, “Crucify him!”
After having Jesus scourged, Pilate delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers, weaving a crown out of thorns, fixed it on his head, and stuck a reed in his right hand. Then they began mocking him by dropping to their knees before him, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
Instigated by your enemies, the mob wanted you dead, dear Jesus, and Pilate didn’t think it was worthwhile to uphold justice and protect your innocence. So the mad mob had its way. The Roman soldiers had their way as they reduced your body to a bleeding wound and crowned your head with thorns and mockery.
And you didn’t open your mouth in protest. You endured it all, meek, like lamb to be slaughtered; silent, like the millions of exploited simple people, oppressed by the ruthless, while many of us turn a blind eye to such blatant injustices.
V: Jesus Receives the Cross
When they had finished mocking Jesus, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.
Dear Lord, the cross was the punishment for criminals and insurgents. Who could believe that it was placed on the shoulders of the Son of God, the source of all holiness and goodness?
And yet, you accepted it in all humility because you knew that such was the condition to save us from eternal damnation.
The cross you accepted to carry was our cross – the cross of our sins, the cross of our weaknesses, our discouragements, our failures, our wickedness.
To this very day, innocent men, women and children are made to bear the cross of other people’s faults, greed, pride, lust…
Grant us the Grace, dear Lord, never to burden others with our moral defects, and bravely to carry with you the cross of our daily duty.
VI: Jesus Falls Under the Weight of the Cross
As he staggered along the road to Cavalry, Jesus felt crushed by the cross he was carrying on his shoulders. Much more, perhaps, he felt overwhelmed by the savage jeering of the mob that kept insulting him as if he were a criminal. Exhausted by the sleepless night and the tortures he had already endured, Jesus fell to the ground under the weight of the cross and the moral tortures he had suffered.
The distance from the Praetorium to the Cavalry was not long – just a few hundred meters. But it took you long, Lord to walk the stretch, staggering painfully and groping in vain for help. Your strength had long deserted you. The road was uneven. The crowd was merciless. The cross was becoming heavier and heavier till it weighed you down…down to the dust!
Like you, Lord, so many of us stagger and fall along the hard way of the cross that life becomes when trials and failures overwhelm us and crush us to the ground.
When we stumble and fall, Lord, be our support! And when our brothers and sisters seem unable to carry the burden of their trials, Lord, give us a compassionate heart, that we may not add insult to injury.
VII: Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross of Jesus
A man named Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was coming in from the fields. The soldiers pressed him into service to carry the cross of Jesus.
Simon just happened to pass there on his way home from the fields. He was forced to make the detour – a detour that changed the course of his life. Forced to carry your cross, Lord Jesus, he himself became a victim of oppression and injustice. He experienced a share of your pain, Lord, and thus discovered what life can be if one wants to help others.
Send us more Simons of Cyrene, Lord. Send us people who have courage to shoulder the crosses of others in brotherly solidarity and patience. Make us like Simon, Lord. Grant us the strength and generosity to carry one another’s burden, for our society is crowded with poor Christs crushed by crosses of all shapes and weights.