Hope for all springs from the Cross of
H.H. John Paul II
Words after the Way of the Cross
Good Friday, April 10, 1998
1. In the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
"God so loved the world that he gave his
only Son" (cf Jn 3:16). For the salvation of
the world, the eternal Son of God, who in
the womb of the Virgin Mary assumed our
human nature by the power of the Holy
Spirit, became "obedient to the Father unto
death, even the death of the Cross" (cf.
Phil 2:8). Every day the Church ponders the
supreme mystery of the saving Incarnation
and the redeeming death of the Son of God,
sacrificed for us on the Cross.
On this day, Good Friday, we pause to
contemplate this mystery with still greater
intensity. In the darkness of the late
evening, we have come here, to the Colosseum,
to follow once again, in the devotion of the
Way of the Cross, the steps of Christ's
journey of suffering, leading to the tragic
climax of his death.
The spiritual ascent of Golgotha, where
Jesus was crucified and surrendered his
spirit, assumes a special significance among
these ruins of Imperial Rome, particularly
in this place linked to the death of so many
2. At this moment our mind goes back to
everything recounte in the ancient Sacred
History, where we find foreshadowings and
foretellings of the Lord's death. How could
we fail to evoke, for example, the journey
of Abraham to Mount Moriah? We rightly
recall this great Patriarch, whom Saint Paul
calls the "father of all believers" (cf. Rom
4:11-12). It is he who receives the divine
promises of the Old Covenant, and his life
prefigures moments of the Passion of Jesus.
With his son Isaac, son of the promise,
Abraham climbed Mount Moriah (cf. Gen 22:2),
which looks symbolically to the mount on
which the Son of Man would die on the Cross,
to offer him in sacrifice. God had asked for
the sacrifice of this only son, whom he had
long awaited with unfailing hope. At the
moment of sacrifice, Abraham himself becomes
in a sense "obedient unto death" : the death
of the son, and the spiritual death of the
This act, though it remained only a test of
obedience and fidelity, since the angel of
the Lord stayed the Patriarch's hand and did
not allow Isaac to be killed (cf. Gen
22:12-13), is an eloquent foreshadowing of
the definitive sacrifice of Jesus.
3. The Evangelist John writes: the eternal
Father so loved the world that he gave his
only Son (cf. Jn 3:16). The Apostle Paul
echoes him: the Son became "for us obedient
unto death, even death on the Cross" (cf.
Phil 2:8). The angel did not stay the
executioners' hand when the Son of God was
And yet in Gethsemane the Son had prayed
that, if possible, the chalice of suffering
might pass him by, though he immediately
declared his complete readiness to do the
Father's will (cf. Mt 26:39). Obedient for
love of us, the Son offered himself in
sacrifice, completing the work of
redemption. Of this shocking mystery we are
all witnesses today.
4. We stand silently on Golgotha. At the
foot of the Cross is Mary, Mater dolorosa:
this woman who is heartbroken with grief,
but prepared to accept the death of her Son.
The sorrowful Mother recognizes and accepts
in the sacrifice of Jesus the Father's will
for the redemption of the world. Of Mary the
Second Vatican Council says: "The Blessed
Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith,
and loyally persevered in her union with her
Son unto the Cross. There she stood, in
keeping with the divine plan (cf. Jn 19:25),
suffering grievously with her only- begotten
Son. There she united herself with a
maternal heart to his sacrifice, and
lovingly consented to the immolation of this
Victim which she herself had brought forth.
Finally, the same Christ Jesus, dying on the
Cross, gave her as a mother to his disciple.
Thus he did when he said: "Woman, behold
your son" (Lumen Gentium, 58).
Mary was given as a mother to all of us, who
are called to follow faithfully the steps of
her Son who for us was made obedient unto
death, death on a cross: "Christus factus
est pro nobis oboediens usque ad mortem,
mortem autem crucis" (Antiphon of Holy Week;
cf. Phil 2:8).
4. It is now the dead of night. As we
contemplate Christ dead on the Cross, our
thoughts turn to the countless injustices
and sufferings which prolong his passion in
every part of the world. I think of the
places where man is insulted and humiliated,
downtrodden and exploited. In every person
suffering from hatred and violence, or
rejected by selfishness and indifference,
Christ continues to suffer and die. On the
faces of those who have been "defeated by
life" there appear the features of the face
of Christ dying on the Cross. Ave, Crux,
spes unica! Today too, from the Cross there
springs hope for all.
Men and women of our time, look upon the One
who was pierced! Out of love he gave his
life for us. Faithful and docile to the will
of the Father, he is for us an example and
an encouragement. Precisely by reason of
this filial obedience, the Father "has
highly exalted him and bestowed on him the
name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9).
May every tongue proclaim "that Jesus Christ
is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"
(cf. ibid., 2:11)
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