O Christ, abandoned and betrayed even by your own, and sold for next to nothing.
O Christ, judged by sinners, handed over by the leaders.
O Christ, tortured in the flesh, crowned with thorns and clothed in purple. O Christ, slapped and beaten, and nailed in excruciating pain to the Cross.
O Christ, pierced by the lance that opened your heart.
O Christ, dead and buried, you who are the God of life and existence.
O Christ, our only Savior, we return to you this year with eyes lowered in shame, and with hearts filled with hope:
Shame for all the images of devastation, destruction and wreckage that have become a normal part of our lives;
Shame for the innocent blood that is shed: of women, children, migrants and those who are persecuted because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity and social standing, or because of their faith in You;
Shame for the many times that, like Judas and Peter, we have sold you and betrayed you and left you alone to die for our sins, fleeing like cowards from our responsibilities;
Shame for our silence before injustices; for our hands that have been lazy in giving, and greedy in grabbing and conquering; for the shrill voices we use to defend our own interests and the timid ones we use to speak out for others; for our feet that are quick to follow the path of evil and paralyzed in following the path of good;
Shame for all the times that we bishops, priests, and consecrated men and women have scandalized and wounded your body, the Church; for having forgotten our first love, our initial enthusiasm and total availability, allowing our hearts and our consecration to rust.
So much shame Lord, but our hearts are also longing with trustful hope, knowing that you will not treat us according to our merits but solely according to the abundance of Your mercy; that our betrayals do not diminish the immensity of your love; that your maternal and paternal heart does not forget us because of the hardness of our own;
The certain hope that our names are written in your heart and that we are reflected in the pupils of your eyes;
The hope that your Cross will transform our hardened hearts into hearts of flesh that are able to dream, to forgive and to love; that it will transform this dark night of your cross into the brilliant dawn of your Resurrection;
The hope that your faithfulness is not based on our own;
The hope that the ranks of men and women who are faithful to your Cross will continue to live in fidelity like leaven that gives flavor, and like light that reveals new horizons in the body of our wounded humanity;
The hope that your Church will seek to be the voice that cries out in the wilderness for humanity, preparing the way for your triumphant return, when you will come to judge the living and the dead;
The hope that good will be victorious despite its apparent defeat!
Oh Lord Jesus, Son of God, innocent victim of our ransom, before your royal banner, before the mystery of your death and glory, before your scaffold, we kneel in shame and, with hope, and we ask that you bathe us in the blood and water that flowed from your lacerated heart; to forgive our sins and our guilt;
We ask you to remember our brethren who are destroyed by violence, indifference and war;
We ask you to break the chains that keep us imprisoned in our selfishness, in our willful blindness, and in the vanity of our worldly calculations.
Oh Christ, we ask you to teach us never to be ashamed of your Cross, not to exploit it but to honor and adore it, for by it You have shown us the monstrosity of our sins, the greatness of your love, the injustice of our judgments, and the power of your mercy.