03/22/2008, 00.00
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Let the cross unsettle our human certainties, says the Pope

Presiding over the rite of the Via Crucis, Benedict XVI calls for conversion. Jesus calls each one of us “friend,” yet many believe they can live without the need for God.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Let the sacrifice on the cross concern us, let it unsettle our human certainties and ask questions from those who do not know God, who “wish to seek freedom by excluding God,” and the “many who believe they do not need God.” This is the reflection Benedict XVI proposed tonight at the end of the Via Crucis, a ceremony attended by tens of thousands of people who occupied all available space around an illuminated Colosseum, standing in a steady and heavy downpour, which made the long rite even more evocative as the rain strove to snuff out lighted torches and candles.

Benedict XVI picked up the cross at the end of the traditional route, on the Palatine, taking it from the hands of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Camillo Ruini. Before him it was carried by an African nun from Burkina Faso, a family from Rome, a woman on a wheelchair, two friars from the Custody of the Holy Land, a Chinese man and woman bearing witness of the Church’s presence in that country, also evoked in the reflections of Cardinal Zen who wrote the text for the rite.

In the Pope’s own words Good Friday “ends in the silence of meditation and prayer.” “Can one remain indifferent before the death of the son of God?” “Today let us turn our eyes, often distracted by dispersive and ephemeral earthly interests, towards Christ; let us stop to contemplate his cross, source of life and school of justice and peace, universal heritage for forgiveness and peace, permanent proof of an oblative and infinite love that led God to become man, vulnerable like us till he died crucified.”

“Through the cross’ painful journey,” said the Pope, “men in every era, reconciled and redeemed by the blood of Christ, have become God’s friends, sons of the celestial Father. Friend, Jesus called Judas, when he addressed him in a last dramatic appeal to conversion. Friend, he calls each one of us, because he is a true friend to all of us. Sadly, we cannot always perceive the depth of God’s unbound love for us. For him, no differences of race and culture exist. Jesus Christ died to release the whole of humanity from the ignorance of God, and the enslavement to sin. Brothers and sisters, the cross makes us, but let us ask ourselves at this moment what have we done for this gift, what have we done with the revelation of God’s face in Christ, with the revelation of God’s love that overcomes hatred.”

“Many are those who in our age do not know God, who cannot find him in the crucified Christ. Many are those who wish to seek freedom by excluding God; there are many who believe that they do not need God. After experiencing Jesus’ passion tonight, let his sacrifice on the cross concern us, let us let him unsettle our human certainties; let us open our heart to him; Jesus is the truth that makes us free to love; let us not fear. Dying, the Lord destroyed the old sin and saved the sinners, that is all of us.” “On the cross the Lord gave us back the dignity that belongs to us.”

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