Rome (AsiaNews) The Via Crucis or Way of the Cross "is not a thing of the past, a given point in time and place," but an event "that embraces the world across the continents and the ages" before which "we cannot be mere spectators".
Last year, Cardinal Ratzinger, who composed the Meditations for the Way of the Cross on instructions from John Paul II, astonished with strong words, almost an invective against those who, even and especially within the Church, betray the Crucified Jesus. This year, in his first reflection, almost expressed extemporaneously, the Pope called on the faithful to share in the suffering and love of God.
"We have accompanied Jesus on the Way of the Cross," were his first, meaningful words addressed to a crowd of tens of thousands who followed the ritual with fervour.
A few hours earlier, during the adoration of the Cross in St Peter's, stripped of the symbols of papal power, ring included, Benedict XVI showed his participation in the stripping of Jesus by inviting everyone "to find our place" on the Way of the Cross.
In his first Via Crucis as Pope, Benedict XVI carried the cross in the first and last stations. The other 'Cyrenians' were, first, Card. Camillo Ruini, the Pope's Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, then a Roman family, a US Ukrainian Catholic seminarian, a religieuse, a young Mexican woman, two Franciscans from the Custody in the Holy Land, a young Korean woman from in Cheon, another religieuse, a young woman from Angola, and finally another young woman from Nigeria.
In what Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope's Vicar General for Vatican City, wrote we see in the "suffering of our humanity", as the Pope said, "the mirror of the Cross". The Meditations and prayers covered the sins for which Jesus climbed, tonight, Mount Calvary. Because, as was said at the second station, in "Christ's passion, hatred was unleashed: our own hatred, and the hatred of all humanity. In Christ's passion, our evil recoiled before goodness, our pride exploded with resentment in the face of humility, our depravity was outraged by God's radiant clarity."
Today "we have lost our sense of sin! Today," was said at the third station, "a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication."
"Today," said the meditation of the tenth station, "bodies are constantly bought and sold on the streets of our cities, on the streets of our televisions, in homes that have become like streets. When will we realize that we are killing love?" And again, at the fifth station, "our affluence is making us less human, our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation, and our society's incessant, tedious message is an invitation to die of selfishness;"; "[s]urely God is deeply pained," said the seventh meditation, "by the attack on the family. Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family. There is a move to reinvent mankind, to modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God. But, to take God's place, without being God, is insane arrogance, a risky and dangerous venture."
At the ninth station, people prayed to Jesus to end the "division of our world into belts of prosperity and belts of poverty" because "the world is yours and yours alone. Yet you have given it to everyone so that the earth can become a home where all find nourishment and shelter."
"We have understood," Benedict XVI noted, " that the Way of the Cross is not only a collation of sad things or things that happen in the world" or "a shout of protest that changes nothing" but "as we have learnt from John Paul II, it is the way of mercy that limits evil".
On the Way of the Cross, there were "stations of consolation", like the faith of Paul, Augustine, Francis, Vincent de' Paoli, Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa., "righteous ones" in which "we, too, find our position", especially, the "Mother whose goodness is faithful beyond death". It is Good Friday, "but it is not the last word; the last word is Easter".