X: Jesus is stripped of His Garments

The climb to Calvary is complete; a moment’s rest awaits. But the humiliation continues, as the guards strip Jesus of His garments. He is left naked, exposed, vulnerable. But this is the very form of love, the trustful abandonment of all defenses. Unlike Adam, who, in his nakedness, hid himself in fear, the New Adam does not seek to cover Himself. He has no one to fear: God is His loving Father.

The world seeks freedom in the accumulation of possessions and power. It forgets that the only people who are truly free are those who have nothing left to lose.
Despoiled of everything, detached from everything, they are “free from all men” and all things. It can be truly said that their death is already behind them, because all their “treasure” is now in God and in him alone.

Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom

IX: Jesus falls the third time

Jesus suffers another fall. In His eyes, it is not cause for despair, but only another invitation to heroic love, to a rising above the situation. Love does not stop to measure or complain, but presses on to fulfillment.

That voice you hear within you: ‘What a heavy yoke you have freely taken upon yourself!’ … is the voice of the devil; the heavy burden… of your pride.
Ask our Lord for humility, and you too will understand those words of Jesus, which I like to translate freely, as follows: ‘my yoke is freedom, my yoke is love, my yoke is unity, my yoke is life, my yoke is fruitfulness.’

Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way of the Cross

VIII: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Jesus calls out to the women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep rather for yourselves and for your children.” Sometimes our sorrow is misdirected. We grieve because of the failings of others. Pointing out the faults of others may leave us in the pleasant shade of our own complacency, but this is a false redemption. We must call to mind the task given not to others, but to ourselves. If we wish our sorrow to be productive, we will direct it toward the one place in which we can truly effect a change: our own hearts.

Contrition… imparts to the soul of man a unique character of beauty. For it is in contrition that the new fundamental attitude of a humble and reverent charity becomes dominant and manifest, that man abandons the fortress of pride and self-sovereignty, and leaves the dreamland of levity and complacency, repairing to the place where he faces God in reality.

Dietrich von Hildebrand, “Contrition,” Transformation in Christ

VII: Jesus falls a second time

Jesus falls again, this time from weariness. His heart is not weary, but His body can only bear so much. There is no reluctance, only fatigue. For us, however, the two go hand in hand: when we tire of our pilgrimage, we seek escape. Discouragement urges us to turn away. But the only real failure, we must remember, would be to give up completely. No matter how many times we may stumble, and no matter how long it may take to rise up again, this is the only path to freedom.

Does one not break one’s entire life with every gesture? But what of it? The thing is not to go away, and wander for days, months, even years – the thing is to return and in the old place to find oneself.

Adam, in The Jeweler’s Shop by Saint Pope John Paul II

VI: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus

Veronica boldly steps forward to offer some relief. No one stops her: the guards are too consumed with the chaos of the crowds. Jesus accepts this gesture gratefully, and wipes His Face on her cloth. The cloth receives the imprint of the New Adam. We, too, received that imprint when the waters of baptism poured down on us. In the veil of Veronica, we see, as in a mirror, our true selves and our high calling.

Remember, Christian, the surpassing worth of the wisdom that is yours. Bear in mind the kind of school in which you are to learn your skills, the rewards to which you are called. Mercy itself wishes you to be merciful, righteousness itself wishes you to be righteous, so that the Creator may shine forth in his creature, and the image of God be reflected in the mirror of the human heart…. The faith of those who live their faith is a serene faith. What you long for will be given you; what you love will be yours forever.

Saint Pope Leo the Great, from a sermon on the Beatitudes

…Let us visit Christ whenever we may; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal, as some have done, or by anointing him, as Mary did, or only by lending him a tomb, like Joseph of Arimathea, or by arranging for his burial, like Nicodemus, who loved Christ half-heartedly, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi before all these others. The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Gregory of Nazianzen, bishop, from a sermon entitled De pauperum amore