Jesus "suffers in his body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make his face unrecognizable," the Pope said, noting how Jesus was also shamed by the condemnation of religious and political leaders.
In being sent from Pilate to Herod and then back to the Roman governor, Jesus experiences indifference "in his own flesh," because "no one wishes to take responsibility for his fate," Francis observed.
Even the crowd, who had previously welcomed him, call for his crucifixion and ask that a murderer be released instead, the Pope recalled. This then leads to Jesus' death in the "most painful form of shame" intended for traitors, slaves and the worst of criminals.
However, as if his isolation, defamation and pain weren't enough, Jesus takes it a step further, Pope Francis said, explaining that in order to be in complete solidarity with man, "he also experiences on the Cross the mysterious abandonment of the Father."
Jesus faces his final temptation while hanging from the Cross, when he is challenged to come down and save himself. Though instead of giving in, the Lord entrusts himself to his Father in order to conquer evil for good and show the face "of a powerful and invincible God," he said.
Francis explained that even at "the height of his annihilation, (Jesus) reveals the true face of God, which is mercy," by forgiving those who crucify him, moving the heart of the centurion and promising paradise to the repentant thief.
"If the mystery of evil is unfathomable, then the reality of Love poured out through him is infinite, reaching even to the tomb and to hell," the Pope said.
Jesus, he added, "takes upon himself all our pain that he may redeem it, bringing light to darkness, life to death, love to hatred."
Pope Francis concluded his homily by noting how God's way of acting seems to be distant from our own, since "he was annihilated for our sake, while it seems difficult for us to even forget ourselves a little."
"He comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves," he said, and encouraged attendees to pause during Holy Week to contemplate the Crucifix.
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By humbling himself, Jesus invites us to walk the same path, Francis said, urging pilgrims to ask him "for the grace to understand something of the mystery of his obliteration for our sake; and then, in silence, let us contemplate the mystery of this week."
After Mass Pope Francis greeted youth present for the 31st World Youth Day, the national celebration of which will take place July 25-31 in Krakow, and led pilgrims in praying the Angelus.