The Eleventh Station Jesus is nailed to the Cross(Meditation by a priest accused and later acquitted)When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews”. One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong”. And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power”. And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”(Lk 23:33-43).Christ nailed to the Cross. How often, as a priest, have I meditated on this page of the Gospel. When later, one day, they put me on a cross, I felt the full weight of that wood: the accusation was made in words as hard as nails, the ascent became steep, suffering weighed me down. The darkest moment was seeing my name pasted outside the courtroom: at that moment I realized that I was a guiltless man forced to prove his innocence. I hung on the cross for ten years: my Way of the Cross was populated with dossiers, suspicions, accusations, insults. Each time I was in the courtroom, I looked for the crucifix: I kept my eyes fixed on it as the law investigated my story.For a moment, shame led me to think that it would be better to end it all. But then I decided to remain the priest I always was. I never thought of lessening my cross, even when the law permitted it. I chose to submit myself to a regular trial: I owed it to myself, to the young men I taught during the years at the seminary, to their families. While I was climbing my Calvary, I found them all along the way: they became my Cyreneans, they bore the weight of the cross with me, they dried my many tears. Together with me, many of them prayed for the young man who accused me: they never stopped. The day on which I was fully acquitted, I found myself happier than I had been ten years before: I experienced first-hand God working in my life. Hanging on the cross, I discovered the meaning of my priesthood.Lord Jesus, the love you showed us to the end led you to the cross. Dying, you still forgive us and give us life. We entrust to your Father all those innocent men and women who throughout history have suffered unjust condemnation. May your words resound in their hearts: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.Let us pray.O God, source of mercy and forgiveness, who reveal yourself in the sufferings of humanity, enlighten us with the grace that flows from the wounds of the Crucified One and grant us perseverance in faith throughout the dark night of trial. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.