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Text for Stations of the Cross led by Pope Francis on Good Friday

Giulio Napolitano | Shutterstock

Anne-Marie Pelletier - published on 04/13/17

Philippe de Champaigne | Public Domain


Jesus is crucified

From the Gospel according to Luke

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (23:33-34).

From the book of the prophet Isaiah

Upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed (53:5).


Truly God is where he shouldn’t be!

The beloved Son, the Holy One of God, is now a body exposed on a cross of shame, abandoned to disgrace, between two criminals. A man of sorrows from whom one turns away; even as we turn away from so many scarred men and women we meet along the way.

The Word of God, in whom all things were created, is no more than a mute and suffering mass of flesh. All our human cruelty raged against him and triumphed. Truly, God is where he shouldn’t be. Yet, at the same time, he is exactly where we need him to be!

He came to share his life with us. “Take!” So he kept saying, as he offered healing to the sick, forgiveness to wayward hearts and his body at the Passover meal.

Yet he ended up in our hands, in that realm of death and violence that never ceases to shock us when we see it in the world all around us. It lurks in our own hearts as well. The monks killed in Tibhirine were well aware of this; to their prayer: “Disarm them!”, they added the petition: “and disarm us!”

The tender love of God had to visit this hell of ours. It was the only way to free us from evil.

Jesus had to bring God’s infinite tenderness to the very heart of the world’s sin.

Only thus, by directly encountering God’s life, would death turn back in its tracks and fall, like a foe who, finding one stronger than himself, takes flight and disappears.


Lord our God, receive our silent praise.

Like the kings who remained speechless before the Servant proclaimed in Isaiah’s prophecy (cf. 52:15), we remain silent and amazed before the Lamb slain for our life and for the life of the world. We confess that by your wounds we have been healed. “What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord” (Ps 116:12.17).

Pater noster

Christ, put to death for our sins,
Christ, risen for our life,
We beg you, have mercy on us.

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