April 5, 2009
Stations of the Cross
In the popular devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, it is important not only to meditate on the scene before us, but to enter into it, to participate, to take on the role of some character or other. Here are a few illustrations:
1st Station – Jesus is unjustly accused by Pilate. Have you ever been falsely accused, when you were the victim of some false gossip? No matter how hard you tried to explain, no one believed you. Or those in prison falsely accused, like the two Catholic bishops in Chinese prisons right now, accused of being spies for America ? If you’ve been unjustly accused by gossip or innuendo, how do you act? Do you identify with Our Lord before Pilate, keeping silent & offering up your humiliation for the sins of the world, knowing that God will have the last word?
4th Station – Jesus meets his mother. Mary’s heart was broken not only because her son was publicly disgraced, humiliated & mistreated, but most of all, that she could not help Him. Mary is every parent unable to save their children. Every parent who watches by the hospital bed, buries a child, or who stands by helplessly while a child disintegrates with drugs or alcoholism, whose prayers plead with God for a child living a sinful lifestyle, or who has departed from the faith, or whose marriage is falling apart. They silently offer their prayers & their tears & we know that many a last-minute Good Thief is snatched to Paradise because some mother or father earned mercy for them.
5th Station – Simon is forced to carry Jesus’ cross. These are people who carry crosses they did not want or ask for or bargain for. No one wanted the sick parent, the retarded child, the cancer, the addiction, the divorce, the job loss, the depression. Too many of us have the name Simon of Cyrene, & we’re angry at God & frustrated. But if Simon started out angry, with time he moved to understanding & from understanding to love, & from there onto his own salvation. Could this too be our calling?
9th Station – Jesus falls the 3rd time. We all stand before this one with our habits of sin: The nasty word out of our mouth before we can stop it, the quick judgment, the ongoing gossip, the addiction to pornography or to anger. No matter how hard we try or how badly we feel afterward, we can’t seem to shake it. We keep falling like Jesus. But this station has a different focus – He got up again. How about it Lord? One more time? Is our prayer “O God of the second chance, here I am again”?
12th Station – Jesus dies on the cross forgiving His enemies. I who still hold grudges & harbor a hard heart, can I be forgiving like Him?
14th Station – Jesus is laid in the tomb. How many are in despair & darkness, who are at their wit’s end, caught in a loveless marriage, a dead-end job, an unethical business deal. Like those who placed both Jesus & their hopes in the darkness of the tomb & rolled a heavy stone over both, do we feel a stone rolled over our heart?
So, the Stations are more than a simple pious devotion. They are life. They reflect our pain, but they give us hope, for there is a 15th station called the Resurrection. It’s a good devotion to prepare ourselves for Easter. AMEN!