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Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross

"What Have We Done With This Gift?"

ROME, MARCH 22, 2008 (Zenit) - Here is a transcription and translation of the reflection Benedict XVI offered Friday at the end of the Way of the Cross in the Roman Colosseum.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

This year too we have walked along the way of the cross, the Via Crucis, evoking again with faith the stages of the passion of Christ. Our eyes have turned to contemplate the sufferings and the anguish that our Redeemer had to bear in the hour of great sorrow, which entailed the highpoint of his earthly mission. Jesus dies on the cross and lies in the tomb. The day of Good Friday, so permeated by human sadness and religious silence, closes in the silence of meditation and prayer. In returning home, we too, like those who were present at the sacrifice of Jesus, beat our breasts, recalling what happened. Is it possible to remain indifferent before the death of the Lord, of the Son of God? For us, for our salvation he became man, so as to be able to suffer and die.

Brothers and sisters: Let us direct today our gaze toward Christ, a gaze frequently distracted by scattered and passing earthly interests. Let us pause to contemplate his cross. The cross, fount of life and school of justice and peace, is the universal patrimony of pardon and mercy. It is permanent proof of a self-emptying and infinite love that brought God to become man, vulnerable like us, unto dying crucified.

Through the sorrowful way of the cross, the men of all ages, reconciled and redeemed by the blood of Christ, have become friends of God, sons of the heavenly Father. "Friend," is what Jesus calls Judas and he offers him the last and dramatic call to conversion. "Friend," he calls each of us, because he is the authentic friend of everyone. Unfortunately, we do not always manage to perceive the depth of this limitless love that God has for us. For him, there is no distinction of race or culture. Jesus Christ died to liberate the humanity of old of their ignorance of God, of the circle of hate and violence, of the slavery to sin. The cross makes us brothers and sisters.

But let us ask ourselves, in this moment, what have we done with this gift, what have we done with the revelation of the face of God in Christ, with the revelation of the love of God that conquers hate. Many, in our age as well, do not know God and cannot encounter him in Christ crucified. Many are in search of a love or a liberty that excludes God. Many believe they have no need of God.

Dear friends: After having lived together the passion of Jesus, let us this night allow his sacrifice on the cross to question us. Let us permit him to challenge our human certainties. Let us open our hearts. Jesus is the truth that makes us free to love. Let us not be afraid: upon dying, the Lord destroyed sin and saved sinners, that is, all of us. The Apostle Peter writes: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24). This is the truth of Good Friday: On the cross, the Redeemer has made us adoptive sons of God who he created in his image and likeness. Let us remain, then, in adoration before the cross.

Christ, give us the peace we seek, the happiness we desire, the love the fills our heart thirsty for the infinite. This is our prayer for this night, Jesus, Son of God, who died for us on the cross and was resurrected on the third day.

Amen.

[Transcription and translation by ZENIT]

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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