STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eleventh Station — Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Bernardin stations of the cross

From The Journey to Peace

When they came to the Skull Place, as it was called, they crucified him there and the criminals as well, one on his right and the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” It was now around midday, and darkness came over the whole land until midafternoon with an eclipse of the sun. (Luke 23:33-34a, 44)

The New Covenant is Sealed With Jesus’s Blood

In the covenant God promises to take care of his people as a shepherd cares for his flock.  The people, on their part, take on the responsibilities of observing God’s law, which in turn teaches them how to live in right relationships with him and with one another.  The covenant is sealed with blood.  For the ancient Israelites, blood symbolized life.  The blood of sacrifice was poured on the altar – symbolizing God – and sprinkled on the people.  In effect, it gave visible expression to the fact that new life now flowed between God and his people, between God and his human family.

In the new and eternal covenant, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are made into a new people, a new creation.  As in the former covenant, we are called upon to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  This new and eternal covenant is sealed with the very blood of Jesus, poured out on the cross and offered daily on our altars.  New life flows between God and his people.

God, source of life, blood is a precious substance
in our world that is too often spilled and
wasted in violence.  But the precious blood of your
son, Jesus, seals our covenant with you and allows
new life to flow between you and your people.  Help
me to become more aware of the value of each 
human life, from conception to natural death and
in all its circumstances.

Jesus Practiced What He Preached

The reading from Saint Luke’s Gospel (6:27-38) places before us one of Jesus’s key challenges: “Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  When someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to him the other.”  Jesus himself practiced what he preached.  As he lay in agony, his head crowned with thorns that pierced his skin, as he twisted in agony while the hammer beat the nails deeper and deeper into the tendons of his wrists, he still was able to utter those amazing words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He loved his enemies to the very end.  He did good to those who hated him.  He not only challenged us to this profound dimension of love, but he showed us the way.

Sometimes it seems easier to love our enemies if they are distant.  The farther away people are, the less we see them, the easier it is to forgive and forget.  But the persons who are close to us, whose lives are entwined with our own, whose words and idiosyncrasies grate on us day after day – these are the greatest challenges because time and space do not insulate us from those actions, words, memories, or hurts that cause us pain or resentment.

To love the members of our own family in an ongoing task.  To love our next-door neighbor is, at times, also not easy.  To love our fellow parishioners is a persistent challenge.

God of mercy and compassion, we are learning that
forgiving does not mean forgetting, but rather
remembering so that we will not allow the hurt to be
repeated.  At the same time, I find it difficult to
forgive others and even myself.  Help me to learn
from the example of my crucified Lord how to truly

Jesus Shows Us How to Keep Our Focus on God’s Purpose

Jesus’s ministry is not orderly, but we would hardly suggest that it has no focus.  He is frequently overextended in ministering to those in need but never loses his way.  His work at times interferes with his sleep but not with his prayer.  For years I wondered how he kept his ministry so clearly on track through all the interruptions and obstacles – all the “mess” of the world that intruded into his life and work.

Then one day it struck me that when Jesus opened his arms to embrace a little child and when he opened his arms wide on the cross to embrace the whole world, it was one and the same.  He came among us “filled with enduring love.” (John 1:14)  So the people he encountered on his journeys were never interruptions, distractions, or obstacles.  For him they were opportunities to carry out his mission; this is why the father sent him into the world!

O Lord, my God, it is so easy for me to lose my
way during each day’s hustle and bustle.  I set out
with the intention of living in your presence and
walking in your ways, but there are so many 
distractions, so many choices, so much noise in my life!
Help me to carry out Jesus’s mission, using every
interruption and distraction as an opportunity to
proclaim Jesus and his gospel in all I say and do.

Conversion Demands That We Be Open to God

Conversion demands that we be open to what the Lord wants of  us.  We have to be willing to become instruments in his hands.  We must be willing – indeed, eager – to incarnate in our lives the paschal mystery, the dying and rising of Jesus.  Saint Paul is a marvelous model for those who wish to be successful evangelizers.  Throughout his letter he emphasizes the changes that occur in him as his union with the Lord deepens.  He tells the Colossians, “In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the church.” (Colossians 1:24)  And to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me.” (Galatians 2:20)  When we are open to the Lord’s expectations of us, we become one with him.  We become the instruments through which he showers his love, mercy, and healing on the human family.

God, it is difficult enough to see my Lord nailed to
a cross.  It is positively terrifying to say that I have
been crucified with him!  Help me to embrace the
cross each day and to be united with my crucified
Lord so that I may also be united one day with the
risen Lord.

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