Outside the city, to the north-west of Jerusalem, there is a little hill: Golgotha is its name in Aramaic; locus Calvariae, in Latin: the place of skulls or Calvary.
Offering no resistance, Jesus gives himself up to the execution of the sentence. He is to be spared nothing, and upon his shoulders falls the weight of the ignominious cross. But, through love, the Cross is to become the throne from which he reigns.
The people of Jerusalem and those from abroad who have come for the Passover push their way through the city streets, to catch a passing glimpse of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. There is a tumult of voices, and, now and then, short silences: perhaps when Jesus fixes his eyes on someone:
If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me (Matt 16:24).
How lovingly Jesus embraces the wood which is to bring him to death!
Is it not true that as soon as you cease to be afraid of the Cross, of what people call the cross, when you set your will to accept the Will of God, then you find happiness, and all your worries, all your sufferings, physical or moral, pass away?
Truly the Cross of Jesus is gentle and lovable. There, sorrows cease to count; there is only the joy of knowing that we are co-redeemers with Him.
Points for meditation
1. The guards that are to accompany him make ready... Jesus, scorned and ridiculed, is a target of mockery for all those around him. He!, who passed through the world doing good and healing all of their afflictions (cf. Acts 10:38).
He, the good Master, Jesus, who came out to meet us who were so far away, is to be brought to the gallows.
2. As if it were a festival, they have prepared an escort, a long procession. The judges want to savour their victory with a slow and pitiless torture.
Jesus is not to meet a quick death... He is given time in which to prolong the identification of his pain and love with the most lovable Will of the Father. Ut facerem voluntatem tuam, Deus meus, volui, et legem tuam in medio cordis mei (Ps 39:9): I find my pleasure in doing thy Will, my God, and thy law dwells deep within my heart.
3. The more you belong to Christ, the more grace you will obtain to be effective in this world and to be happy in eternity.
But you must make up your mind to follow the way of self-surrender: the Cross on your shoulders, with a smile on your lips, and a light in your soul.
4. 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: iugum enim meum suave est, et onus meum leve (Matt 11:30), 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.
5. There is a kind of fear around, a fear of the Cross, of Our Lord 's Cross. What has happened is that people have begun to regard as crosses all the unpleasant things that crop up in life, and they do not know how to take them as God 's children should, with supernatural outlook. So much so, that they are even removing the roadside crosses set up by our forefathers...
In the Passion, the Cross ceased to be a symbol of punishment and became instead a sign of victory. The Cross is the emblem of the Redeemer: in quo est salus, vita et resurrectio nostra: there lies our salvation our life and our resurrection.