Cardinal Arizmendi: The Passion of Christ Today

Let us help those who suffer to carry their cross and not make it heavier


Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and responsible for the Doctrine of Faith at the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate (CEM), offers Exaudi readers his weekly article titled “The Passion of Christ Today”.



In my hometown, since 1992, some young people took the initiative to make a representation of the most important moments of Holy Week. Their objective is not to increase tourism or promote the economy, but to express their faith in Jesus Christ, to have the central message of the Christian faith in their hearts, and to convert us more to the Gospel. The children of parish catechesis do the same, so that, from a young age, they are introduced to the redemptive mystery. These representations are made in many places, some very famous and others go unnoticed by the mass media, but they express the importance of Holy Week.

However, the passion of Jesus is not something just from the past. It is updated in our days, both in liturgical celebrations, and in so many stories of pain and suffering that are experienced in families, hospitals, prisons, and even in people who appear to be happy, but who in their hearts carry sores and wounds that almost no one knows. How much suffering of those who live in wars, kidnapped, disappeared, extorted and migrants! I share only a few cases that I have experienced very closely these days.

A wife, married by both laws to her husband, had to separate from him because he keeps getting drunk, doesn’t look for work, can’t afford daily expenses, is aggressive towards her and irresponsible, with two children they have, one of thirteen years old and another of just two. She went to live with her parents, who kindly took her in. How much pain for her, for her children, for her grandparents, and for her husband himself! Because there is no doubt that he also suffers a lot, and only when drunk would he want to forget about her situation.

When leaving home and going to medical appointments, I see many people selling a wide variety of things on street corners, or cleaning windshields and tires of vehicles, to buy a few cents and bring daily bread to the family. There are also elderly women and migrants, who fight for life until late at night. They endure cold, rain, heat, fatigue and contempt. They never have vacations. How many anguish and sorrow!

A sister lives with me, older than me, who has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for about three years. We don’t mind having her with us, and we enjoy many moments together; we make her laugh and remember stories from her past; we take her everywhere we go. We do everything we can so that she feels good and does not lack what she needs, above all our love and support; but she suffers a lot. She was recently complaining about herself and I asked her what hurt her; her response was: my soul hurts… This is because she says that she no longer does anything, that she is no longer useful, that we don’t love her, that we scold her, that it would be better to throw her out on the street… She tells us that people entered her house in the house and took his things, which is not true; but these and other imaginations of hers make her suffer. She frequently cries, and we can’t figure out why. In days past, I approached her and asked her why she was crying; she told me that she already wanted to die; when I asked her the reason for it, she told me family problems that she imagines, but that are not real. If we tell her that she is not as she claims, even though we say it with affection trying to prevent her from suffering, she answers us: then, am I crazy? We do everything we can to make her feel good, but her cross is painful.

Like these stories, there are millions in the world, some much more painful than these.


Pope Francis, on different occasions, has reminded us that the passion of Jesus continues to be lived in our days. He dedicated several catechisms to the elderly, making us see his suffering and loneliness. Last week, he told a group of migrants gathered in Lajas Blancas, Panama, who had just passed through the so-called Darién Gap, between Colombia and Panama: I would like to be personally accompanying you now. I am also the son of migrants who left in search of a better future. There were times when they were left with nothing, even starving; with empty hands, but a heart full of hope.

I thank my brother bishops and pastoral agents. They are the face of a mother Church that marches with her sons and daughters, in whom she discovers the face of Christ and, like Veronica, with affection, provides relief and hope in the via crucis of migration. Thank you for committing to our migrant brothers and sisters who represent the suffering flesh of Christ, when they are forced to abandon their land, to face the risks and tribulations of a hard path, finding no other way out (March 21, 2024).

In a video message to those who make representations of Holy Week in Mérida, Spain, he told them: “May Holy Week leave its mark, an indelible and permanent mark on the lives of all those who contemplate the Stations of Penance. It is not a spectacle event; it is a proclamation of our salvation; that’s why it must leave a mark.

In Holy Week it is necessary to dedicate time to prayer, to welcome the Word of God, to stop like the Samaritan before his wounded brother: The love of God and neighbor is one love. In the presence of God, we become sisters and brothers and perceive others with new intensity.

Holy Week is a time of grace that the Lord gives us to open the doors of our hearts, of our parishes. Opening and going out is what is asked of us during Holy Week, opening our hearts and going out to meet Jesus and others, and also to bring the light and joy of our faith. Always go out! And do this with love and with the tenderness of God, with respect and patience, knowing that we put our hands, our feet, our heart, but that it is God who guides us and shows us the path.”


Let us help those who suffer to carry their cross and not make it heavier; May the contemplation of the suffering Christ prompt us to serve Him in the brothers in whom He continues to suffer.