Standing beneath the Cross like Mary

Youths just before starting the Via Crucis with Pope Francis

One of the main events of World Youth Day in Panama, was the Way of the Cross conducted by Pope Francis and attended by thousands of young people was held on Friday on the waterfront of Panama City.

After walking through all fourteen stations, the Pope celebrated mass and the Vatican Press Office released the text of the Pope’s homily:

“The way of Jesus leading to Calvary is a way of suffering and solitude that continues in our own time.  He walks and suffers in all those faces hurt by the complacent and anesthetizing indifference of our society that consumes and is consumed, that ignores and is ignorant, blind to the pain of our brothers and sisters.

“Lord, we too, your friends, have given in to apathy and inaction.  All too often, we have ended up going along with the crowd, and this has paralyzed us.  It has been hard to see you in our suffering brothers and sisters.

“The temptation is always the same.  It is easier and “it pays” to be friends in triumphs and in glory, in success and applause; it is easier to be around someone who is considered popular and a winner. How easy it is to fall into a culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation.

“Father, today your Son’s way of the cross continues:

  • in the muffled cry of children kept from being born and of so many others denied the right to a childhood, a family, an education, or to be able to play, sing or dream…
  • in women who are mistreated, exploited and abandoned, stripped of their dignity and treated as nothing;
  • in the saddened eyes of young people who see their hopes for the future snatched away for lack of education and dignified work;
  • in the anguish of young faces, our friends, who fall into the snares of unscrupulous people – including people who claim to be serving you, Lord – snares of exploitation, criminal activity, and abuse which feed on their lives.

“Your Son’s way of the cross continues in all those young people and families who, caught up in a spiral of death as a result of drugs, alcohol, prostitution and human trafficking, are deprived not only of a future but also of a present.

“Your Son’s way of the cross continues in those young people with downcast faces who have lost the ability to dream, create and shape their future, and have already chosen to “retire” in glum resignation or complacency, one of the narcotics most consumed in our time.

“It continues in the quiet and anger-filled pain of those who, instead of solidarity from an opulent society, encounter rejection, sorrow and misery, and are singled out and treated as responsible for all society’s ills.

“It continues in the indigenous peoples whom others strip of their lands, roots and culture, ignoring and silencing the great wisdom that they can bring.

“Your Son’s way of the cross continues in the plea of our mother earth, profoundly wounded by the pollution of her skies, the barrenness of her fields, the contamination of her waters, trampled underfoot by disregard and a fury of consumption beyond all reason.

“It is prolonged in a society that has lost the ability to weep and to be moved by suffering.

“And we, Lord, what are we to do? How are we to react to Jesus as he suffers, travels, emigrates in the faces of many our friends, or of all those strangers that we have learned to make invisible?

“And we, Father of mercy,

  • do we console and accompany the Lord, helpless and suffering in the poorest and most abandoned of our brothers and sisters?
  • do we help carry the burden of the cross, like Simon of Cyrene, by being peacemakers, builders of bridges, a leaven of fraternity?
  • do we remain, like Mary, at the foot of the cross?

“Let us look to Mary, woman of strength.  From her let us learn how to stand beneath the cross with her same determination and courage, without evasions or illusions.  She accompanied the suffering of her Son, your Son; she supported him by her gaze and protected him with her heart.

“We too want to be a Church that supports and accompanies, that is able to say, “Here I am!” in the lives and amid the crosses of all those Christs who walk by our side.

“From Mary we learn how to say “yes” to the patience and perseverance of the many mothers, fathers and grandparents who never cease to support and accompany their children and grandchildren in trouble.

“In Mary, we learn the strength to be able to say “yes” to those who have refused to remain silent in the face of a culture of mistreatment and abuse, disparagement and aggression, and who work to provide opportunities and to create an atmosphere of safety and protection.

“In Mary, we learn how to welcome and take in all those abandoned, and forced to leave or lose their land, their roots, their families and their work.

“From her we want to learn to stand beneath the cross, not with hearts tightly shut, but with hearts that can accompany, that feel tenderness and devotion, that show mercy and treat others with respect, sensitivity and understanding.

“Like Mary we want to learn what it means to “stand”. Lord, teach us to stand, at the foot of the cross, at the foot of every cross.  Open our eyes and hearts and rescue us from paralysis and uncertainty, from fear and desperation.  Teach us to say: Here I stand, alongside your Son, alongside Mary and all those beloved disciples who desire to welcome your Kingdom into their heart.