R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
“They tear holes in my hands and my feet; I can count every one of my bones” (Ps 21:17- 18).
The words of the Prophet are fulfilled.
The execution begins.
The torturers’ blows crush the hands and feet of the Condemned One against the wood of the Cross.
The nails are driven violently into his wrists. Those nails will hold the condemned man as he hangs in the midst of the inexpressible torments of his agony.
In his body and his supremely sensitive spirit, Christ suffers in a way beyond words.
With him there are crucified two real criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. The prophecy is fulfilled: “He was numbered among the transgressors” (Is 53:12).
Once the torturers raise the Cross, there will begin an agony that will last three hours. This word too must be fulfilled: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (Jn 12:32).
What is it that “draws” us to the Condemned One in agony on the Cross?
Certainly the sight of such intense suffering stirs compassion. But compassion is not enough to lead us to bind our very life to the One who hangs on the Cross.
How is it that, generation after generation, this appalling sight has drawn countless hosts of people who have made the Cross the hallmark of their faith?
Hosts of men and women who for centuries have lived and given their lives looking to this sign?
From the Cross, Christ draws us by the power of love,
divine Love, which did not recoil from the total gift of self;
infinite Love, which on the tree of the Cross raised up from the earth the weight of Christ’s body, to counterbalance the weight of the first sin;
boundless Love, which has utterly filled every absence of love and allowed humanity to find refuge once more in the arms of the merciful Father.
May Christ lifted high on the Cross draw us too, the men and women of the new millennium!
In the shadow of the Cross, let us “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2).
O Christ lifted high,
O Love crucified,
fill our hearts with your love,
that we may see in your Cross
the sign of our redemption
and, drawn by your wounds,
we may live and die with you,
who live and reign with the Father and the Spirit,
now and for ever.