Twelth Station: Crucified
“We hold the Cross high. The Cross was the symbol of shame and ignominy. Jesus was deliberately condemned to this particularly cruel and humiliating form of death. Yet we hold the Cross high along the streets of this park. We offer it to those who join with us on our journey and in our meditation. We offer it to those who pass by. We offer it to those who care to notice and those who do not. We offer the Cross to our world and our society.
At the conclusion of the passion story in the Gospel of Saint Luke there is a striking passage just after the death of Jesus which challenges us. Saint Luke speaks of two groups who were present. He talks of “the people who had gathered for this spectacle” and he speaks of “Jesus’ acquaintances who stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee”.
Crowds stood by the Cross of Jesus to watch a spectacle, a show, a piece of entertainment, the gruesome spectacle of criminals being crucified. The crowd had no interest or knowledge or feeling about who Jesus was, what his identity was. Did they look on Jesus and the two thieves in the same light? Had they horribly got their own favourite, one whose death they would have been happier about? That crowd was vindictive; they had come to enjoy watching the death of an offender. Jesus is surrounded by such people, ordinary respectable good citizens, looking for and enjoying vengeance.
Yet Jesus, the innocent one, is the first to forgive; he forgives everyone, his forgiveness is not selective, he has no favourites. Indeed the first person to reach his kingdom after Jesus’ liberating death was not a respectable citizen, but an outsider, a common criminal condemned alongside Jesus.
Lord, keep us from drifting away from you, becoming just spectators, watching your final moment without any sense of being acquainted with you, without any affection for you.
Keep away from us all sense of vindictiveness, of rejoicing in the humiliation of others who may even be much better people than we are. Let us learn, even when we are suffering and feel oppressed and under pressure, to think also of others.
The cross is sign of contradiction, a sign of challenge, a call to conversion. When we encounter the Cross, then we have to make a decision. The Cross challenges us today to decide where we wish to stand regarding the place of Jesus in our lives.”
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Reflections for the Via Crucis
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Good Friday 2010