The meditation below is taken from the meditations “God is Mercy” by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti for the Way of the Cross led by His Holiness Pope Francis on Good Friday. The full text for this Way of the Cross may be found by clicking (here).
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:2-3)
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Amidst the confusion of the crowd following Jesus to Calvary, Veronica appears, a woman whose face and life is unknown. And yet she is a courageous woman, ready to listen to the Spirit and to follow his inspirations. She is able to recognize the glory of the Son of God in the marred face of Jesus, and to perceive his invitation to her: “All you who pass by, look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam 1:12).
Love, which this woman incarnates, leaves us speechless. Love renders her strong enough to challenge the guards, to overcome the crowd, to draw close to the Lord and perform an act of compassion and faith: stopping the blood from his wounds, drying his tears of pain, contemplating his disfigured face, behind which hides the face of God.
We instinctively try to run away from suffering, because suffering is repugnant to us. We come across so many faces disfigured by the afflictions of life and too often we turn away. How can we not see the face of the Lord in the face of the millions of exiles, refugees, and displaced persons who are fleeing in desperation from the horror of war, persecution and dictatorship? For every one of them, each with a unique face, God reveals himself always as the one who courageously comes to our aid. Like Veronica, the woman whose face is unknown to us, who lovingly wiped Jesus’ face.
“Your face, o Lord, do I seek” (Ps 27:8).
Help me to see your face in my brothers and sisters
who walk the way of pain and humiliation.
Teach me to dry the tears and blood of those trodden down in every age,
of all those ruthlessly cast aside by a rich and careless society.
Help me to glimpse your face of infinite beauty behind every human face,
even the most abandoned.
Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.
Quis non posset contristari,
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?
For more about St. Veronica – “What does it mean to be a Veronica?”