The Way of the Cross – Week 4

The Way of the Cross – Week 4

We are spending our Wednesday nights (online at 7 pm) leading up to Easter following the last hours of Jesus’ mortal life by recalling actual locations in Jerusalem along the Via Dolorosa, the “stations of the cross” that Pilgrims in Jerusalem follow prayerfully every Friday. 

Each week, the stations from the previous devotion (just the day before) will be summarized here in the E-pistle with a prompt for further, personal Lenten reflection. (The previous weeks’ stations can be found further down in this column). 

The more we do to prepare for Easter, it turns out, the more we might have to celebrate when resurrection arrives… 

 

(This week’s stations – March 27, 2022)

10. Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments : After the suffering of this walk through the streets of Jerusalem, at Golgotha, Jesus is stripped of his clothes. And then lots are drawn to see who gets them. The only property and privacy he had left. 

        HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL? CAN YOU THINK OF SOMETHING, SOMEONE OR SOME EXPERIENCE THAT LEFT YOU WITH A BAD TASTE IN YOUR MOUTH? JESUS WAS DYING AND THEY HIM ONLY GALL AND VINEGAR…

11. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross: Jesus is not the only person executed on Good Friday. The biblical story has crosses and condemned men on his left and on his right. The Bible also records some interaction between Jesus and the two others. 

        IF THERE WERE ANY BACK AND FORTH WITH THE CROWD, WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE WOULD BE SAID TO JESUS, AND HOW MIGHT HE RESPOND?

 

(Stations from last week – March 23, 2022)

7. Jesus Falls a Second time : legend has it that on the walk from his condemnation to his death on a cross, Jesus fell three times. Interestingly, the artwork that illustrates the devotional we are using, shows the severity of his falls progressing: the first looked like he stumbled; this second looked like he fell to the ground; and the third that we will soon get to shows him stretched out on the ground, having fallen fully on his face. 

       IMAGINE YOU ARE STANDING IN THE CROWD RIGHT AT THE POINT WHERE HE FALLS. HOW’S IT MAKE YOU FEEL? WHAT IS YOUR INWARD RESPONSE? DO YOU MAKE AN OUTWARD RESPONSE? SOME MIGHT AVERT THEIR EYES – OUT OF RESPECT, DENIAL, OR SORROW – NOT TO WITNESS HIS SUFFERING. CONSIDER OTHER SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOU HAVE FELT AN INWARD PULL TO TURN AWAY FROM SUFFERING. 

8. Jesus Warns the Women of Jerusalem : this is from the Bible, one of Jesus’ 7 last words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and your children.” 

       IMAGINE HOW THE CROWD MIGHT BE RESPONDING DIFFERENTLY – THE MEN WHO IN THAT SOCIETY WERE THE DECISION-MAKERS COULD BE THE ONES WHO ARE JEERING AT JESUS. THE WOMEN, WHO ARE THEMSELVES POWERLESS IN THAT SOCIETY, MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE PRONE TO EMPATHIZE WITH JESUS’ SUFFERING. ARE THERE PLACES IN YOUR LIFE WHERE VULNERABILITY MAKES YOU MORE OPEN TO GOD? 

9. Jesus Falls a Third Time : As described before, the image associated with our devotional depicts Jesus having collapsed to the ground where he is lying helpless. 

       IMAGINE YOURSELF IN A GROUP OF PEOPLE – a small congregation – SAYING TOGETHER THE TRADITIONAL PRAYER, “GRANT US SO TO GLORY IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST, THAT WE MAY GLADLY SUFFER SHAME AND LOSS FOR THE SAKE OF OUR SAVIOR JESUS.” …WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU TO “GLADLY SUFFER SHAME AND LOSS FOR JESUS’ SAKE?” 

 

(Stations from March 16, 2022)

4. Jesus Meets His Mother: Amongst all the crowd lining his way, mostly people jeering at his suffering, there are a few of his followers, friends, the faithful. Among them is his mother. 

       IMAGINE HER REACTION WHEN SHE SEES HIM. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION SEEING THEM IN THIS ENCOUNTER? REMEMBER TIMES IN YOUR LIFE WHERE YOUR EXPERIENCE WAS SOMEHOW AKIN TO MARY’S…

5. The Cross is Laid on Simon of Cyrene: The Romans compel Simon to carry Jesus’ cross on the way to the crucifixion. It is not clear whether Simon was forced to do this because he had shown some sympathy for Jesus, or if his choosing was completely arbitrary. 

       IMAGINE YOURSELF IN SIMON’S POSITION. WHAT IS THE BURDEN YOU BEAR – THE PHYSICAL WEIGHT AS WELL AS THE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT. WHAT ARE THE CROSSES THAT YOU BEAR? DO YOU THINK OF THEM AS BURDENS YOU BEAR FOR JESUS? 

6. A woman wipes the face of Jesus: According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with sympathy seeing Jesus and gave him her veil so that he could wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offer, and when he returned the veil, the image of his face was miraculously captured on it. The resulting relic became known as the Veil of Veronica.

       IMAGINE YOU WERE IN A POSITION TO OFFER TO WIPE THE SWEAT AND DIRT FROM JESUS’ FACE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO HIM IN THAT INTIMATE, PASSING MOMENT? 

 

(Stations from March 9, 2022) 

1. The Pavement (Gabbatha in Aramaic) : Where Pilate, on his judgment seat,  accepted the wishes of the Sanhedrin, and condemned Jesus to death. 

       IMAGINE THAT JESUS’ MOTHER GETS TO CRADLE HER CONDEMNED SON FOR A MOMENT. ONCE THEY HAVE LED HIM AWAY, YOU ARE THERE WITH HER. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO COMFORT HER, AND HOW WOULD SHE RESPOND? 

2. The Place of the Skull (Golgotha in Aramaic) : Is the place outside the city walls, the skull- shaped hill where Jesus was crucified. He is led there bearing his own cross. 

       IMAGINE YOU ARE STANDING ON THE HILLSIDE SHAPED LIKE A SKULL AND YOU SEE JESUS COMING INTO VIEW, WALKING TOWARD YOU, CARRYING THE CROSS. WHAT EMOTIONS DO YOU FEEL? IF YOU COULD SAY SOMETHING TO HIM, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

3. The First Time Jesus Falls: A great crowd lines up along the way that Jesus must walk towards the cross. Like all crowds, it is mixed. There are a few who are lamenting this man’s misery, because they recognize his humanity, or because they are his followers. But the rest, the vast majority, are cheery at the entertainment of another’s suffering. In the crowd, you hear a few gasps, but much more laughter and cheering.

       IMAGINE THAT AS YOU STAND THERE, A 10-YEAR OLD CHILD IS STANDING NEXT TO YOU. YOU NOTICE THE CHILD, NOT UNDERSTANDING, IS LOOKING TO YOU, AN ADULT, FOR HELP, AN EXPLANATION. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?