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Monday 14 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Francisa de Paula de Jesus Isabel
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Text of the Stations of the Cross for 2020, led by Pope Francis

POPE VIA CRUCIS

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Aleteia - published on 04/09/20

The Thirteenth Station
Jesus is taken down from the Cross

Walwyn | Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

(Meditation by a volunteer religious Brother)

Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever yet been laid (Lk 23:50-53).

Prisoners have always been my teachers. Sixty years ago, I went into prisons as a volunteer friar and I have always blessed the day when, for the first time, I encountered this hidden world. Seeing their faces, I came to realize with clarity that I could have been in their place, had my life taken a different direction. We Christians frequently fall into the illusion of feeling that we are better than others, as our care for the poor allows us to stand as judges of others, condemning them as many times as we want, without any appeal.

In his life, Christ willingly chose to take his stand with the least: he travelled the forgotten peripheries of the world in the midst of thieves, lepers, prostitutes, scoundrels. He wanted to share the experience of poverty, solitude, anxiety. I have always thought that that was the real meaning of his words: “I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Mt 25:36).

Passing by one cell after another, I see the death that lives within. Prison continues to bury individuals alive: theirs are stories that no one wants to hear any longer. Each time, Christ says to me again: “Keep going, don’t stop. Take them in your arms again”. I cannot help but listen to him: even within the worst of persons, he is always there, however obscured is their memory of him. I just need to halt my hectic pace, stop in silence before those faces marred by evil and listen to them with mercy. This is the only way I know to accept that person, and avert my gaze from the mistake he made. Only in this way will he be able to trust and regain the strength to surrender to God’s goodness, and see himself differently.

Lord Jesus, your body, disfigured by such great evil, is now wrapped in a shroud and consigned to the bare earth: here is the new creation. To your Father, we entrust the Church, born from your pierced side, that she may never give up in the face of failure and appearances, but persevere in bringing to all the joyful message of our salvation.

Let us pray.

O God, beginning and end of all things, in the Passover of Christ you redeemed all humanity. Grant us the wisdom of the Cross that we may abandon ourselves to your will with a spirit of joy and gratitude. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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