Source: Archbishops House
At 12 noon, Cardinal Nichols joined Christians of different denominations in the Walk of Witness which began at Methodist Central Hall. The procession, led by a man carrying a cross symbolising Christ’s journey to Calvary, made its away along Victoria Street to the amazement of many tourists and shoppers who stopped to take photos.
On the steps of Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Nichols explained that Christ’s suffering on the Cross includes all the suffering of the world throughout history to our present day, encompassing persecution, injustice, and every form of suffering. The Walk of Witness returned along Victoria Street to Westminster Abbey.
Immediately following, the Cardinal attended the Passion Play in Trafalgar Square, performed by the Wintershall Players, where he led the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer.
At 3pm, the Cardinal presided over the Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion in a packed Westminster Cathedral. Among the concelebrants were chaplains of the Cathedral and Bishop Mark Jabalé, Emeritus Bishop of Menevia.
In his homily, the Cardinal said: ‘Today, we come to venerate the Cross, in its stark cruelty and in its penetrating beauty.’
‘As we come forward,’ he added, ‘we may hand over to the Lord every burden of our sin, of our dismay at failure, of our broken hearts. We may place at the foot of the Cross every sorrow and suffering of our broken world, including that of his disciples who still today are being martyred.’
‘This Cross is the moment in which we see beyond the immense and relentless suffering in our world, which it represents,’ he continued. ‘For on this Cross Jesus is raised up not only agony and pain, but also into glory; for his glory is to be, in his being, in his body, the unwavering total love of God for his creation.’
The text of the homily given by His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols follows:
In these days of Holy Week we have said ‘Hosanna’, save us. We have heard the Mandatum, the command of our Lord and Master. Today, we face the Cross in all its terrible cruelty. Here we can so easily lose sight of who he is.
In the First Reading, we heard the words of Isaiah: ‘He shall be lifted up; raised to great heights.’ We shall be both appalled and amazed. We witness him being lifted up to death on a cross. Only with eyes of faith do we see him raised to great heights.
With the eyes of our imagination we see him crucified: crushed, disfigured, depressed, rejected. Indeed, we screen our faces; we look away as we often do. We strive to understand that, on his Cross, Jesus is absorbing all the hatred, anger, evil of the world, all the darkness hidden in the corners of our hearts. This is what he wants: to take unto himself all our burdens. As Isaiah says, ‘Through him what the Lord wishes will be done.’ And that wish of our Father is that we receive his mercy and forgiveness.
So, as we venerate the Cross of Jesus today, as we come forward, we may hand over to the Lord every burden of our sin, of our dismay at failure, of our broken hearts. We may place at the foot of the Cross every sorrow and suffering of our broken world, including that of his disciples who still today are being martyred.
Yet we come to the Cross with the other words of Isaiah also in mind: ‘He shall be raised to great heights.’ This Cross is the gateway by which Jesus enters again the embrace of his Father. This Cross is the moment in which we see beyond the immense and relentless suffering in our world, which it represents. For on this Cross Jesus is raised up not only agony and pain, but also into glory; for his glory is to be, in his being, in his body, the unwavering total love of God for his creation.
Jesus told us: ‘When I am lifted up, then you will know that I am he.’ Yes, he is the One, existing from before all creation, who discloses the very heart of God. And it is love.
Today, we come to venerate the Cross, in its stark cruelty and in its penetrating beauty. Pope Francis recently said: ‘Never consider the Cross to be a trinket, an ornament which you wear.’ Do not look on it as a badge of belonging, of being a Christian. Rather, look on the Cross, today and every day, as the source of our salvation.
He said: ‘There is no salvation in ideas; there is no salvation in good will, in the desire to be good. The only salvation is in the crucified Christ because he alone takes to himself all the poison of sin and heals us.’
Come, let us adore him.