By Cian Molloy - 20 April, 2019
A large crowd, including An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, joined Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin in walking a Way of the Cross in the Phoenix Park yesterday.
This is the 17th Good Friday that Archbishop Martin has led a Way of the Cross in the Phoenix Park, starting at the Wellington Monument and finishing at the Papal Cross.
Along the route, the Archbishop lead five reflections – the first of which was partly a reaction to the violence in Derry on Thursday night, which lead to the death of journalist Lyra McKee.
Thinking of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane anticipating his crucifixion, the Archbishop said: “Jesus is troubled but he is also the one who remains serene. He finds the time to heal the wounded slave of the high priest.
“Today we need witnesses who can convince people, even in our own land, that violence is always a blind alley that only leads to further violence. We see that in last night’s tragedy in Derry that cost the life of Lyra McKee.”
In his second reflection, based on Peter’s betrayal of Jesus, the Archbishop said the saint’s denial of Our Lord was not a denial of the heart, but a fear of what others might think.
“There are those today who do not have the courage to take on negative public opinion that can be easily manipulated and distorted and people fall for its superficiality or victims to its insensitivity and the vulnerable then fall victim to the power of the crowd.”
The third reflection considered Jesus as the king of love and mercy, while also noting that Jesus was not the king of compromise and half-heartedness. It concluded with this prayer: “Lord enable us to accept your healing hand when we fail. You never give up on us. Jesus had a special love for sinners, for those who fail.
“Lord Jesus, teach your Church to understand human failure not as eternal exclusion, but as the place where weakness and sinfulness are recognised and the weak and sinful are healed.”
The fourth reflection looked at those that Jesus met on the Via Delarosa: the women of Jerusalem, Simon the Cyrene who helps Jesus carry his cross to Calvary where Our Lord meets the two criminals who are to be crucified with him.
“We see later on that Jesus has compassion for his criminal companions, especially the one who sees that Jesus is a good man,” said the Archbishop. “How is it that the Church and its institutions could at various times in history have been so judgemental and treated broken people who were entrusted to its care with such harshness?”
Archbishop Martin then repeated the words of Pope Francis at the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park last year, asking for forgiveness of all those who suffered abuse at the hand of representatives of the Church.
The fifth and final reflection looked at the moment of Jesus’ death, with the Archbishop saying: “This brutal scene of inhumanity becomes the moment when humanity is redeemed… Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have saved the world.”