1. THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN
"Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And Peter fell asleep. And the other apostles. And you, little friend, fell asleep ... and I too was another sleepy-headed Peter.
Jesus, alone and sad, suffers and soaks the earth with his blood.
Kneeling on the hard ground, he perseveres in prayer .... He weeps for you ... and for me. The weight of the sins of men overwhelms him.
Pater, si vis, transfer calicem istum a me: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me .... Yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk 22: 42).
An angel from heaven comforts him. Jesus is in agony. He continues prolixius, praying more intensely .... He comes over to us and finds us asleep: "Rise," he says again, "and pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Lk 22: 46).
Judas the traitor: a kiss. Peter's sword gleams in the night. Jesus speaks: "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?" (Mk 14: 48).
We are cowards: we follow him from afar -- but awake and pray. Prayer ... Prayer ...
2. THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR
Pilate speaks: "It is your custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. Whom shall I set free: Barabbas -- a thief jailed with others for murder -- orJesus?" (Mt 27: 17). The crowd, spurred on by their rulers, cry: "Put this man to death and release Barabbas" (Lk 23: 18).
Pilate speaks again: "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Mt 27: 22). Crucifige eum: "Crucify him!" (Mk 15: 14).
Pilate, for the third time, says to them: "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death" (Lk 23: 22).
The clamor of the mob grows louder: "Crucify him; Crucify him!" (Mk 15: 14).
And Pilate, wanting to please the crowd, releases Barabbas to them and orders Jesus to be scourged.
Bound to the pillar. Covered with wounds.
The blows of the lash sound upon his torn flesh, upon his undefiled flesh, which suffers for your sinful flesh. More blows. More fury. Still more ... It is a last extreme of human cruelty.
Finally, exhausted, they untie Jesus. And the body of Christ yields to pain and falls limp, broken and half-dead.
You and I cannot speak. Words are not needed. Look at him, look at him ... slowly. After this ... can you ever fear penance?
3. THE CROWNING WITH THORNS
Our King's eagerness for suffering has been fully satisfied! They lead my Lord to the courtyard of the palace, and there call together the whole troop (Mk 15: 16). The brutal soldiers strip his most pure body. They drape a dirty purple rag about Jesus. They place a reed, as a scepter, in his right hand.
The crown of thorns, driven in by blows, makes him a mock king. . . . Ave, Rex Iudæorum: "Hail, King of the Jews!" (Mk 15: 18). And with their blows they wound his head. And they strike him ... and spit on him.
Crowned with thorns and clothed in rags of purple, Jesus is shown to the Jewish crowd. Ecce Homo: "Here is the man!" And again the chief priests and their attendants raise the cry, saying, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" (Jn 19: 5-6).
You and I ... haven't we crowned him anew with thorns and struck him and spat on him?
Never again, Jesus, never again ... And a firm and practical resolution marks the end of these ten Hail Marys.
4. THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS
Carrying his cross, Jesus goes out of the city to the place of the skulls-called Golgotha in Hebrew (Jn 19: 17). And they lay hold of a certain Simon from Cyrene, who is coming in from the country; and they make him take the cross and carry it behind Jesus (Lk 23: 26).
The prophecy of Isaiah (53: 12) is being fulfilled -- cum sceleratis reputatus est ("he was counted among the wicked") -- or two others are being led out with him to be put to death (Lk 23: 32).
If anyone would follow me .... Little friend, we are sad, living the Passion of our Lord Jesus. See how lovingly he embraces the cross. Learn from him. Jesus carries the cross for you: You ... carry it for Jesus.
But don't drag the cross .... Carry it squarely on your shoulder, because your cross, if you carry it so, will not be just any cross .... It will be the holy cross. Don't carry your cross with resignation: resignation is not a generous word. Love the cross. When you really love it, your cross will be ... a Cross without a cross.
And, surely, you will find Mary on the way, just as Jesus did.
5. THE CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD
For Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, the throne of triumph is ready. You and I do not see him writhe on being nailed. Suffering all that can be suffered, he spreads his arms in the gesture of an Eternal Priest ....
The soldiers take his holy garments and divide them into four parts. In order not to tear the tunic, they cast lots to decide whose it shall be. And so, once more, the words of Scripture are fulfilled: "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothes they cast lots" (Jn 19: 23-24).
Now he is on high .... And close to her Son, at the foot of the cross, stands Mary .... and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. And John, the disciple Jesus loved. Ecce Mater tua: "Behold your mother": he gives us his mother to be ours.
Earlier, they had offered him wine mixed with vinegar, and, when he had tasted it, he would not drink it (Mt 27: 34).
Now, he thirsts ... for love, for souls. Consummatum est: "It is accomplished" (Jn 19: 30). Foolish child, look: All this ... He has suffered it all for you .... And for me. Can you keep from crying?