Jesus falls for the third time
V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
From the Book of Lamentations 3:27-32
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him; let him put his mouth in the dust — there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion, according to the abundance of His steadfast love.
What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in His own Church? How often is the Holy Sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must He enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that He is there! How often is His Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to Him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where He waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in His Passion. His betrayal by His disciples, their unworthy reception of His Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces His heart. We can only call to Him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison — Lord, save us (cf. Matthew 8: 25).
Lord, Your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In Your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of Your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray You time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on Your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag You down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that You will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of Your Church, You will remain prostrate and overpowered. But You will rise again. You stood up, You arose and You can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.
(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum of Rome, Good Friday, March 25, ARSH 2005, 25 days before his ascendancy to the See of Peter)