Having carried His Cross, stumbling under its weight and eventually requiring assistance, we now come to the final stage of the life of the Man of Sorrows.
Before the still-jeering crowds, He suffers one more indignity as He is stripped of His garments, which are then gambled for by His executioners. This act also adds to His physical pain, reopening the wounds of the scourging. Now He is lain upon His Cross, and iron nails are driven through His hands and feet, and He is then lifted into the position in which He will suffer to death. From this point on, every movement, every breath, is a labour and a source of exquisite pain. This is Christ in all of His humanity. Now His divinity seems so far from Him that even He calls out "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me".
By now, nearly all of His apostles are absent from the scene, driven away by fear that they, too, might suffer a grisly fate. Only three figures remain at the foot of the Cross: His Blessed Mother, who years previously had accepted Him and all He would bring her when she said, "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord"; His beloved Apostle John, to whose care He now commends her; and Mary Magdalene, the former 'good time girl' who found in Him true goodness and joy which she never attained from her life of profligate sexuality.
We need, perhaps to reflect on these three figures when we take stock of our own lives in this season of Lent. Are we, like Our Lady, ever faithful, even when following Our Lord brings us suffering? Are we, like John, able to accept the love of God, and, in turn extend that love to others? Do we, like Mary Magadalene, realise that fleshy and worldly pleasures are false, transient and unfulfilling, and renounce them for Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especailly those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.