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First Station of the Cross
Jesus is condemned to death

with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger     
(Pope Benedict XVI) Good Friday 2005, at the Colosseum in Rome

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:22-23, 26):
Pilate said to them, “What am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” “Why?" he asked, "What harm has he done?” But they shouted all the louder, “Let him be crucified!” Then he released Barabbas for them. He ordered Jesus to be first scourged and then handed over to be crucified.

Meditation
The Judge of the world, who will come again one day to judge us all, stands there, annihilated, dishonoured and defenceless before the earthly judge. Pilate is not utterly evil. He knows that this condemned man is innocent; he looks for a way to free him. But his heart is divided. And in the end he lets his own position, his own self-interest, prevail over what is right. Nor are the men who shout out and demand the death of Jesus utterly evil. Many of them, on the day of Pentecost, will feel “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), when Peter says to them: “Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God ... you took and had crucified by men outside the Law” (Acts 2:22.). But at that moment they are influenced by the crowd. They shout because the others are shouting, and as the others are shouting. And in this way, justice is trampled underfoot by weakness, cowardice, for fear of the diktat of the dominant mentality. The quiet voice of conscience is suffocated by the cries of the crowd. Indecision, concern for human respect, give force to evil.

Prayer
Lord, you were condemned to death because fear of the gaze of others suffocated the voice of conscience. It has always been like this throughout history, that the innocent have been maltreated, condemned and killed. How many times have we ourselves preferred success to truth, our reputation to justice? Give force in our lives to the quiet voice of our conscience, to your voice. Look at me as you looked at Peter after his denial. Let your gaze penetrate our hearts and indicate the direction to our lives. To those who on Good Friday had shouted out against you, on the day of Pentecost their hearts were stirred by you and converted. And in this way you gave hope to us all. Give us, ever anew, the grace of conversion.

Our Father .. At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.

Music: from 'Triduum - Contemporary Sacred Music' by David Bevan & Neil Wright.
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1st Station of the Cross    
with quotes from Julian of Norwich

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Pilate said to him: “Do you not know that I have power to release you and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered: “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19: 10)

Then said our good Lord Jesus Christ to me: "Are you well satisfied with my suffering for you?" And I said: "Yes, good Lord, in your mercy. Yes, good Lord, may you be blessed for ever!" Then said Jesus, our kind Lord: "If you are satisfied, I am satisfied. It is a joy, a bliss and an endless delight to me that I suffered my passion for you. And if it were needful or possible that I should suffer more, I would suffer more." (Julian of Norwich - IX Revelation, Ch 22)

I love you Jesus, my love, above all things; I repent with my whole heart for having offended you.
Never permit me to separate myself from you again.
Grant that I may love you always, then do with me as you will.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be.

with Blessed John Paul II in the Jubilee Year
Good Friday, 21 April 2000, at the Colosseum in Rome
in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

“Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33).
“My Kingdom is not of this world; if my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my Kingdom is not from the world” (Jn 18:36).

Pilate said to him: “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
Pilate said in answer: “What is truth?”.
At this point, the Roman Procurator saw no need for further questions. He went to the Jews and told them: “I find no crime in him” (cf Jn 18:37-38).
The tragedy of Pilate is hidden in the question: What is truth?

This was no philosophical question about the nature of truth, but an existential question about his own relationship with truth. It was an attempt to escape from the voice of conscience, which was pressing him to acknowledge the truth and follow it. When someone refuses to be guided by truth he is ultimately ready even to condemn an innocent person to death.
The accusers sense this weakness in Pilate and so do not yield. They relentlessly call for death by crucifixion. Pilate’s attempts at half measures are of no avail. The cruel punishment of scourging inflicted upon the Accused is not enough. When the Procurator brings Jesus, scourged and crowned with thorns, before the crowd, he seems to be looking for words which he thinks might soften the intransigence of the mob.

Pointing to Jesus he says: Ecce homo! Behold the man!
But the answer comes back: “Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate then tries to buy time: “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him” (Jn 19:5-7).
He is increasingly convinced that the Accused is innocent, but this is not enough for him to decide in his favour.
The accusers use their final argument: “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar” (Jn 19:12).

This is clearly a threat. Recognizing the danger, Pilate finally gives in and pronounces the sentence. But not without the contemptuous gesture of washing his hands: “I am innocent of this ... blood; see to it yourselves!” (Mt 27:24).

Thus was Jesus, the Son of the living God, the Redeemer of the world, condemned to death by crucifixion.
Over the centuries the denial of truth has spawned suffering and death.
It is the innocent who pay the price of human hypocrisy.
Half measures are never enough. Nor is it enough to wash one’s hands.
Responsibility for the blood of the just remains.
This is why Christ prayed so fervently for his disciples in every age:
Father, “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, you accepted an unjust judgment.
Grant to us and to all the men and women of our time
the grace to remain faithful to the truth.
Do not allow the weight of responsibility
for the sufferings of the innocent
fall upon us and upon those who come after us.
To you, O Jesus, just Judge,
be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

con Giovanni Paolo II - Via Crucis 2003
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

From the Gospel according to Mark (15: 14-15):
But the crowd shouted all the more, "Crucify him". So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Meditation
Pilate's verdict was pronounced under pressure from the priests and the crowd. The sentence of death by crucifixion was meant to calm their fury and meet their clamorous demand: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" (Mk 15:13-14). The Roman praetor thought he could dissociate himself from the sentence, washing his hands of it, just as he had already distanced himself from Christ's words identifying his Kingdom with the truth, and with witness to the truth (Jn 18:38). In both instances Pilate was trying to preserve his own independence, to remain somehow "uninvolved". So it may have seemed to him, on the surface. But the Cross to which Jesus of Nazareth was condemned (Jn 19:16), like the truth he told about his Kingdom (Jn 18:36-37), had to strike deep into the Roman praetor's soul. All this was, and is, a single reality, in the face of which one cannot remain uninvolved, on the sidelines.
When Jesus, the Son of God, was questioned about his Kingdom and, because of this, was judged guilty by men and condemned to death, his final testimony began: he was about to demonstrate that "God so loved the world..." (cf Jn 3:16).
We have this testimony before us, and we realize that we are not allowed to wash our hands of it.

Acclamation
Jesus of Nazareth, condemned to death on the Cross, faithful witness to the love of the Father.
Kyrie, eleison.
Jesus, Son of God, obedient to the will of the Father, even unto death on a Cross.
Kyrie, eleison.