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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

Diego Velazquez via Wikipedia Public Domain


Jesus dies on the cross

From the Gospel according to John

Jesus said, “I am thirsty”. A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished”. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit… When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth” (19:28-30.33-35).


All is now fulfilled. Jesus’ work is now complete. He had come forth from the Father on a mission of mercy. That mission was accomplished with a fidelity that led to the utmost bounds of love. All is ended. Jesus commends his spirit into the hands of the Father.

Everything seems to fall into the deadly silence that now descends on Golgotha and the three crosses that stand there. At the close of this day of the Passion, anyone passing that way could only think of the defeat of Jesus, the collapse of the hope that had heartened so many, comforted the poor, lifted up the lowly and enabled the disciples to glimpse that the time had come when God would fulfil the promises proclaimed by the prophets. Now all that seemed lost, shattered, in ruins.

Yet amid that disappointment, the evangelist John has us fix our gaze on a minute detail, which he solemnly describes. Water and blood come forth from the side of Jesus on the cross. What wonder! The wound opened by the soldier’s lance brings forth a flow of water and blood that speaks to us of life and birth.

The message is quite restrained, yet it speaks eloquently to hearts that remember. From Jesus’ body comes forth the flood of water that the prophet had seen issuing from the Temple. A flood that swells and becomes a mighty river, whose waters restore and make fruitful all that they touch in their course. Did not Jesus one day speak of his body as the new Temple? The “blood of the covenant” accompanies that water. Did not Jesus speak of his flesh and blood as the food of eternal life?


Lord Jesus, during these sacred days of the Paschal mystery, renew within us the joy of our baptism.

As we contemplate the water and the blood flowing from your side, teach us to recognize the wellspring of our new life, the love on which your Church is built, and the hope for which you have chosen us and sent us forth to share with the world.

Here is the wellspring of life that bathes the entire universe, welling up from Christ’s wounded side. May our baptism be our only glory, as we give you thanks full of wonder.

Pater noster

The Lamb that was slain
is worthy to receive power and wealth,
and wisdom and might,
and honour, glory and blessing,
for ever and ever.

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