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 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 the previous week – 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?