During an emotional Way of the Cross celebrated on Good Friday evening at the Coliseum in Rome, Pope Benedict prayed that Christians, by following the example of Jesus, may be able to overcome evil with good.
Pope Benedict followed the meditations of the Way of the Cross prepared this year by the Emeritus Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
In his introduction to the Via Crucis, Cardinal Ruini wrote:
When the Apostle Philip asked Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” he replied, “Have I been with you all this time, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:8-9). This evening, as we accompany Jesus in our hearts while he makes his way beneath the cross, let us not forget those words. Even as he carries the cross, even in his death on the cross, Jesus remains the Son, who is one with God the Father. When we look upon his face disfigured by beating, weariness and inner suffering, we see the face of the Father. Indeed, it is precisely in this moment that God’s glory, his surpassing splendor, in some way becomes visible on the face of Jesus. In this poor, suffering man whom Pilate, in the hope of eliciting compassion, showed to the Jews with the words “Behold the man!” (Jn 19:5), we see revealed the true greatness of God, that mysterious grandeur beyond all our imagining.
Yet in the crucified Jesus we see revealed another kind of grandeur: our own greatness, the grandeur which belongs to every man and woman by the simple fact that we have a human face and heart. In the words of Saint Anthony of Padua, “Christ, who is your life, hangs before you, so that you can gaze upon the cross as if in a mirror… If you look upon him, you will be able to see the greatness of your dignity and worth… Nowhere else can we better recognize our own value, than by looking into the mirror of the cross”. Jesus, the Son of God, died for you, for me, for each of us. In this way he gave us concrete proof of how great and precious we are in the eyes of God, the only eyes capable of seeing beyond all appearances and of peering into the depths of our being.
As we make the Way of the Cross, let us ask God to grant us this gaze of truth and love, so that, in union with him, we may become free and good.
Immediately after, Pope Benedict said the following prayer.
Lord God, almighty Father,
you know all things
and you see, hidden within our hearts, our great need for you.
Grant each of us the humility to acknowledge this need.
Free our mind from the pretension,
wrong-headed and even ridiculous,
that we can master the mystery which embraces us.
Free our will from the presumption,
equally naïve and unfounded,
that we can create our own happiness
and the meaning of our lives.
Enlighten and purify our inner eye,
and enable us to recognize, free of all hypocrisy,
the evil which lies within us.
But grant us too,
in the light of the cross and resurrection of your only Son,
the certainty that, united to him and sustained by him,
we too can overcome evil with good.
help us, in this spirit, to walk behind your cross.