VIII: Jesus Meets the Pious Women of Jerusalem
A great crowd of people followed Jesus, including some women who beat their breasts and lamented over him. Jesus turned to them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children. The days are coming when they will say, ‘Happy are the sterile, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin saying to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ If they do these things in green wood, what will happen in the dry?”
Lord Jesus, those women of Jerusalem were surely sincere in their sorrow for you. They were brave enough to follow you along the road to Cavalry. But you directed their attention to the cause of your suffering – Sin, and the punishment which unrepentance would bring down on all.
We wish we were as sincere as they were in lamenting the unfair treatment to which you were subjected. And we wish likewise, that we were equally sensitive to the suffering of our neighbor – especially the squatters, the jobless, the homeless, and all the other victims of human injustice and exploitation. For it is all these forms of sin which bring down God’s well-deserved punishment on our society.
IX: Jesus is Nailed on the Cross
When they came to the place called “the Skull,” they crucified Jesus there together with the two criminals. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” The people stood there watching and the leaders kept jeering at him, saying. “He saved others. Let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, the chosen one!”
Lord, those hands of yours which caressed the children, blessed the sick and chased demons away are now nailed mercilessly to the wood of the cross. Your feet which had taken you from village to village in an effort to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to all, are now immobilized for ever. Your enemies dare you to come down from the cross. But you don’t. Not because of the nails, but because of your love for us sinners. It was love which brought you there. It is love that keeps you there.
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to do our duties out of love and with love, even when all this resembles the pain of the crucifixion.
X: The Repentant Thief
One of the criminals hanging in crucifixion blasphemed Jesus: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us!” But the other one rebuked him: “Have you no fear of God, seeing that you are under the same sentence? We deserve it, after all. We are only paying the price for what we’ve done, but this man has done nothing wrong.” He then said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter upon your reign.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise.”
Lord Jesus, there was so much sincerity in the public confession of the repentant thief…so much faith and trust in the words he addressed to you. The man really believed in your mercy. He believed in your kingdom. And you did not disappoint him.
We often meet people who have done wrong and would like to begin a new life. Lord, grant that we may always be as well disposed to them as you were to the repentant thief. In this way, we, too, will end the course of life sharing the faith and trust of the good thief, and hearing your promise of eternal life.
XI: Mary and John at the Foot of the Cross
Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, there is your son.” In turn he said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” From that hour onward, the disciple took Mary into his care.
“Suffering, like a sword, will pierce your heart,” had prophesied old Simeon. On Cavalry, Mary experienced the fulfillment of that prophesy in its fullness. And once again she said in her heart, “Let it be done to me as you said.”
No one on earth loved you as your Mother did Lord; nor did you love any other person on earth as you loved her. And she was there, witness and sharer of your redeeming suffering. By entrusting her to John, you provided for the remaining days of your Mother. By entrusting John to her, you provided for all mankind, for you gave us all your very own mother as our mother.
May we be as loving children to her as you were.
XII: Jesus Dies on the Cross
It was now midday, and darkness came over the whole land until midafternoon with an eclipse of the sun. Jesus said: “I am thirsty.” They stuck a sponge soaked in wine on some hyssop and raised it to his lips. When Jesus took the wine he said: “Now it is finished.” He uttered a loud cry and said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” After he said this, he died.
We were all condemned to die because of our sins, and you took upon yourself the death penalty that you alone did not deserve.
You had only one life, dear Lord, like all of us, and you gave it up of your own free will, that we might live forever. It was our sins, it was your love for us that killed you, dearest Jesus.
Before you breathed your last you said you were thirsty – thirsty for love. Today we offer you the solace of our repentant love, Lord. We want to love you also for the days when we failed to do so. We want to love you for all those who refuse to love. And may we, at the end of our stormy life, die confidently pronouncing your last words, “Father, into your hands I comment my spirit!”
XIII: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
When evening fell, a wealthy man – Joseph of Arithmathea, arrived. He was another of Jesus’ disciples, and had gone to request the body of Jesus. Thereupon Pilate issued an order for its release. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in fresh linen, and laid it in his own tomb which had been hewn from a formation of rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Lord Jesus, the dark night of death has engulfed you. The only bright lights are the tender love of your Mother, the faithfulness of John and the friendship of Joseph of Arithmathea and a few others. You are laid in the tomb like a precious treasure placed in a chest; like a seed hidden in the soil.
XIV: Jesus Rises from Death
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene came with the other Mary to inspect the tomb. Suddenly there was a mighty earthquake, as the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. He came to the stone, rolled it back, and sat on it. Then the angel spoke, addressing the women: “Do not be frightened. I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified. He is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised. Go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead.’”
Jesus, your holy body could not undergo the corruption of the sepulcher. The tomb could not hold you longer than it was needed to prove that Your death was real. Now the shattered seals, the entrance stone rolled back, the testimony of the angel prove that our resurrection is real. It also proves in advance that we too shall rise.
Your resurrection, Lord, is the pattern of our resurrection even now. It is a challenge to all of us to rise, from the death of sin to the life of grace.
Jesus, you are the Lord of the living. Thank you, Lord, for dying for us. Thank you for rising for us.
Leader:All-powerful and ever-living God, your only Son died for our sins and rose triumphantly from the dead. In your goodness, raise up your faithful people to be one with him in the eternal life of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Leader:And may the blessing of Almighty God: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, descend upon us and with us remain always.