The Twelfth Station Jesus dies on the Cross(Meditation by a civil magistrate)It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. And having said this he breathed his last(Lk 23:44-46).As a civil magistrate, I cannot crucify a man, any man, to the sentence he is serving: that would mean sentencing him a second time. He has to pay for the wrong he did: not to do so would mean trivializing his crimes, justifying the intolerable actions he carried out that caused physical and moral suffering to others.True justice, however, is possible only through a mercy that does not crucify an individual for ever, but becomes a guide in helping him to get up and to realize the goodness that, for all the wrong he has done, is never completely extinguished in his heart. Only by finding his own humanity again will the convicted person be able to see himself in others, in the victim to whom he caused such pain. As much as his path of rebirth can be tortuous and the risk of falling back into evil remains always present, there is no other way to try to rebuild his own personal and communal history.The severity of a sentence puts a person’s hope to a hard test: it helps him to reflect and question whether the reasons for his actions might become an opportunity to consider himself from another perspective. To do this, though, he has to learn how to recognize the person hidden behind the crime committed. In this process, it sometimes becomes possible to glimpse a horizon that can instil hope in that person and once his sentence has been served, to return to society and hope that people will welcome him back after having rejected him.For all of us, even those convicted of a crime, are children of the same human family.Lord Jesus, you died as the result of a corrupt conviction, handed down by unjust judges terrified by the irrepressible force of the Truth. We entrust to your Father all magistrates, judges and lawyers and ask that they may be upright in carrying out their service to the State and its citizens, especially those who suffer the effects of poverty.Let us pray.O God, King of justice and peace, you heard in the cry of your Son the cry of all humanity. Teach us not to identify the person with the wrong he has done and help us to see in everyone the living flame of your Spirit. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.