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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

Public Domain

THIRTEENTH STATION

Jesus is taken down from the cross

From the Gospel according to Luke

Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever been laid (23:53).

MEDITATION

Signs of loving care and honour for the defiled and broken body of Jesus. A few men and women gather at the foot of the cross. Joseph, a native of Arimathea, “a good and righteous man” (Lk 23:50) who, Saint Luke tells us, asked Pilate for the body. Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night, so Saint John adds. And some women, faithful to the end, who look on.

The Church’s contemplation of this scene has also included the Virgin Mary, who was surely present for this moment.

Mary, Mother of mercy, takes in her arms the body born of her flesh, which she has accompanied, lovingly and quietly, all through the years, like every mother who cares for her children.

Now the body she holds has expanded to the measure of her grief, to the measure of the new creation born of the passion of love that pierced the hearts of Son and Mother alike.

In the great silence that fell after the shouting of the soldiers, the insults of the passers-by and the commotion of the crucifixion, there are only signs of love and care, reverent caresses. Joseph lowers the body, which falls into his arms. He wraps it in a sheet, sets it in a newly-hewn tomb in the garden nearby.

Jesus is taken from the hands of his killers. Now, in death, he is once again in hands that treat him with tenderness and compassion.

The violence of murderous men has receded into the distance. Gentleness has returned to the place of execution.

The gentleness of God and those who are his own, those meek hearts that Jesus promised would one day inherit the earth. The primordial gentleness of creation, and of the man and woman made in the image of God. The gentleness of the end time, when every tear shall be wiped away and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, for all flesh shall come to the knowledge of God (cf. Is 11:6.9).

Hymn to Mary

O Mary, weep no more: your Son, our Lord, has fallen asleep in peace.

His Father, in glory, opens before him the gates of life!

O Mary, rejoice: the Risen Jesus has conquered death!

Pater noster

I will lie down in your peace, Lord, and sleep comes at once.
I will arise, for you are my strength.

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