Pope: Cross Shows God Is Close to Us
Leads Via Crucis at Colosseum
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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- At the conclusion of the Way of the Cross, Benedict XVI connected Christ's passion and death with the suffering of contemporary man.
The Pope retraced the 14 stations this Good Friday at the Colosseum, beginning with the Garden of Olives and ending with Jesus' entombment. In a spontaneous meditation, the Holy Father observed that "following Jesus along the way of his passion, we see not only Jesus' passion but we see all those who are suffering in the world."
Contemplating the sufferings of Christ, the Pontiff said, must "open the eyes of our hearts … help us to see with the heart."
The Bishop of Rome carried the cross in the first and the last station. He said that "converting to Christ, becoming Christian," means "receiving a heart of flesh, a heart sensitive to the passion and the suffering of others."
"Our God is not a distant God, untouchable in his blessedness. Our God has a heart, indeed a heart of flesh," he added.
Benedict XVI said that Christ "became flesh precisely to suffer with us and to be with us in our sufferings. He became man to give us a heart of flesh and to awaken in us a love for those who suffer, for those in need."
The Pope ended the meditation praying "for all those in the world who are suffering," and that Christians be messengers of the love of Christ "not only with words but with our entire life."
Young people carried the cross for some of the stations. Among them was a girl from China. Two Franciscan friars from the Holy Land also carried it.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims participated in the Way of the Cross live at the Colosseum. The images were transmitted directly to 41 countries by 67 television networks.
The meditations were composed by Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, prefect of the Ambrosian Library and Gallery of Milan.
In the ninth station -- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem -- Monsignor Ravasi, a biblical scholar, echoes the silent wailing of "all those women who have been abused and raped, ostracized and subjected to shameful tribal practices, anxious women left to raise their children alone, Jewish and Palestinian mothers, and those from all countries at war, widows and the elderly forgotten by their children."
"It is a long line of women who bear witness before an arid and pitiless world to the gift of tenderness and compassion, even as they did for the Son of Mary on that late morning in Jerusalem," he wrote. "They teach us the beauty of emotions: that we should not be ashamed when our heart is moved by compassion, when tears sometimes come to our eyes, when we feel the need of a caress and comforting words."