STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Twelfth Station — Jesus Dies On The Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Bernardin stations of the cross

From The Journey to Peace

Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, there is your son.”  In turn he said to the disciple, “there is your mother.”  From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his care.  After that, Jesus realizing that everything was not finished, said to fulfill the Scripture, “I am thirsty.”  There was ajar there, full of common wine.  They stuck a sponge soaked in this wine on some hyssop and raised it to his lips.  When Jesus took the wine, he said, “Now it is finished.”  Then he bowed his head, and delivered over his spirit. (John 19:25-30)

Let Us Stand With Mary Before the Cross

Mary is present to us similar to the way she stood at the foot of the cross.  She is present in faith, hope, and love.  Because she loves her children as she loved her own son, Mary provides a consoling, healing presence among her sons and daughters.  We come to her with our bruises, our cuts, and our inner hurts, knowing that she is an understanding mother, who cares for us.

She is as a believer, as someone who has put all her trust in God and dedicated her whole being to carrying out his will.  When she gave her fiat and became the mother of Jesus, the rest of her life was devoted to the person and the work of her son.  Because she believed and because she responded obediently to the word that God addressed to her, she became the new Eve, the new mother of all the living.

Mary stands before the cross as a loving mother who suffers with her children.  She stands at the cross with hope for the future in her heart.  As the mother of the church, she reminds us that God never abandons his people.  He has promised a kingdom of justice and harmony, of peace and solidarity.  He is all-powerful and can bring about what he promises.  He is faithful to his word and will fulfill what he has promised.  He has sent his only son among us, “filled with enduring love.” (John 1:14)  Mary stands before the cross knowing that from this suffering and cross will come resurrection and the kingdom.

Let us stand with Mary before the cross, learning from her how we might become people of such faith, hope, and love.

My God, my God, how awesome it is to stand at the
foot of the cross with Mary and see your son die.  He
is the new Adam who has said yes to you, and his
mother is the new Eve.  Saying yes to you, even to the
moment of death, is essential to a beloved disciple, I 
believe, but please help me to say it and mean it.

By Standing At The Foot Of The Cross, We Say Yes to God

As we stand at the foot of the cross – a difficult place to be for every generation, especially our own – we are immediately struck by Jesus’s extreme suffering on our behalf.  In an age like our own, marked in part by the quest for instant relief from suffering, it takes special courage and determination to stand on Calvary.

But standing at the foot of the cross teaches us something very profound.  What ultimately counts is that we say yes to what God requires of us, no matter how costly it may be.  It is essential that we not be sidetracked from our mission – from the church’s mission – by financial problems, inner fear, the hostility of others, or unwarranted harassment.  Uniting our suffering with that of Jesus, we receive strength and courage, a new lease on life, and undaunted hope for the future.

I’m no different from you.  If I have succeeded in my ministry, it’s not because of my human qualities.  I do have some gifts and talents, of course, just as you do.  But I also have many weaknesses and anxieties.  Sin has been and continues to be part of my life, as I’m sure it is of yours.

What is important for you and me is that – if we allow it – our weakness can become our strength.  For when we acknowledge our weakness, we’re more inclined to turn to Jesus, we’re more willing to give ourselves over to him so that he can work in and through us.  And when we are in touch with the weakness and suffering in our own lives – and in those of our people – we’re drawn to stand at the foot of the cross and learn about the redemptive value of Jesus’s suffering and ours.

Lord God, I am exhausted by the journey so far.
The Twelfth Station at first seems to be the culmination,
the summit of the way of the cross.  But I 
know there is more, and there is much more I need
to learn.  Help me to better understand the 
redemptive value of suffering.

Intimacy With the Lord Demands Radical Changes

Conversion demands that we have the courage actually to allow Jesus to take over every part of our life.  True conversion means total commitment to the Lord.  It means entrusting our entire life into his hands, holding nothing back from him.  It does not exempt any part of our lives.  This courage enables us to take the risks that such intimacy always involves when we allow someone – the Lord, in this case – to enter our life fully and without reservations.  When we become intimate with anyone, our life and our decisions are no longer simply our own.  That is why intimacy with the Lord Jesus can be dangerous!  It can demand radical changes of us.  But as you know so well, the fruits of this intimacy are worth far more than the risks!

God, the rock of my heart, it is difficult to continue
standing on Calvary.  Its meaning is seeping deeper
into my being, inviting me into closer intimacy with
my crucified Lord.  I know it means I have to make
changes in my life.  Send your Spirit to guide me
and give me the courage and strength I need.

My Greatest Hope

Fourteen years ago, when I was first introduced to you the evening before the formal installation as Archbishop of Chicago, I said,

As our lives and ministries are mingled together through the breaking of the bread and the blessing of the cup, I hope that long before my name falls from the eucharistic prayer in the silence of death, you will know well who I am.   You will know because we will work and play together  fast and pray together, mourn and rejoice together, despair and hope together, dispute and be reconciled together.  You will know me as a friend, fellow priest, and bishop.  You will know also that I love you.  For I am Joseph, your brother!

That moment of silence will soon be here.  I pray that my initial hope has been realized.

Lord, my God, my life is mingled with those of my
brothers and sisters in the faith who share with me
the body and blood of Christ.  The Eucharist is 
both the sign and the source of our unity, our 
communion, our solidarity.  This is a great mystery, but
it is also the basis of my hope for the future.

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