This week we’re exploring the Stations of the Cross, inspired by Marko Ivan Rupnik’s Contemplating the Face of Christ, and Henri Nouwen’s Walk with Jesus. Meditating on the way of the cross invites us to identify with Jesus’s suffering and death that leads to resurrection. His final hours were full of all the choices, temptations, and invitations we face today. It was Love that took him through; love that changes everything. 


Today’s Bible reading

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did. — John 19:23-24

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness— so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. — Isaiah 52:13-15

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce] my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. — Psalm 22:16-18


More thoughts for meditation

We may not always think of Jesus as naked on the cross, but he was. He was not only completely exposed, he was so brutally disfigured that he no longer looked like a man and people were aghast. Henri Nouwen writes, “Nothing was left to him. He, the image of the unseen God, the firstborn of all creation, in whom all things were created in heaven and on earth, everything visible and everything invisible, thrones, ruling forces, sovereignties, powers — he was stripped of all dignity and exposed to the world in total vulnerability. Here is the greatest mystery of all time: that where all beauty is gone, all eloquence silenced, all splendor taken away, and all admiration withdrawn, there is it that God has chosen to manifest unconditional love to us…

The stripped body of Jesus reveals to us the immense degradation that human beings suffer all over the world, at all places and in all times. Often I think of life as a journey to the mountaintop where I will see at last the full beauty of my surroundings and where I will experience myself in full possession of all my senses. But Jesus points in the other direction. Life is an increasing call to let go of desires of success and accomplishment, to give up the need to be in control, to die to the illusion of greatness. The joy and peace that Jesus offers is hidden in the descending way of the cross. There lie hope, victory, and new life, but they are given to us where we are losing all. ‘Those who lose their life will gain it’ (Luke 9:24). I should not be afraid to lose, nor afraid for those who have lost much, if not all. Jesus was stripped so that we would dare to embrace our own poverty and the poverty of our humanity. In looking at our impoverished selves and the poverty of our fellow human beings, we come to discover the immense compassion that God shows to us. And there we know how to give and forgive, how to care and to heal, how to offer help and create a community of love. In the solidarity of poverty, we find the way to grow closer to each other and joyfully to claim our common humanity.”


Suggestions for action

Jesus gave up everything in order to clothe us with his love and righteousness. Let’s pray to put on Christ in our poverty, based on Romans 13:12-14:

The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

We put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Where we are afraid to be exposed, free us. Show us that you know us completely, with great delight.

We put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Where we are afraid to lose and fail, give us courage to take risks for you.

We put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Where we struggle to forgive those who have hurt and misunderstood us, give us your love.

We put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Where we struggle to accept our own neediness and poverty, give us your Spirit of abundance.

We put on the Lord Jesus Christ.