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
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). — Mark 15:21-22
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. — Isaiah 53:4-5
More thoughts for meditation
For many people, the cross remains a symbol that is impersonal and distant. That is what we try to do with pain and suffering, too. But precisely in the process of defending ourselves from pain, we add more and the cross becomes heavier.
A man named Simon, who was visiting Jerusalem for the festival during Jesus’s crucifixion, didn’t have the “luxury” of distance. He was made to help Jesus carry the cross. He was made to come up close and feel the pain, to help Jesus. Jesus was presumably too weak to fulfill his mission alone! How ironic is it that the work of salvation involves God becoming dependent on human beings? Yet that vulnerability and trust is The Way to our mutuality and togetherness. It is the Way to our union with God and each other. Henri Nouwen writes about the essentiality and challenge of being that vulnerable:
“I feel within me a strong desire to live my life on my own. In fact, society praises the self-made people who are in control of their destinies, set their own goals, fulfill their own aspirations, and build their own kingdoms. It is very hard for me to truly believe that spiritual maturity is a willingness to let others guide me and “lead me where I would rather not go.” (John 21:18). And still, every time I am willing to break out of my false need for self-sufficiency and dare to ask for help, a new community emerges — a fellowship of the weak — strong in trust that together we can be a people of hope for a broken world. Simon of Cyrene discovered a new communion. Everyone whom I allow to touch me in my weakness and help me to be faithful to my journey to God’s home will come to realize that he or she has a gift to offer that may have remained hidden for a very long time. To receive help, support, guidance, affection, and care may well be a greater call than that of giving all these things because in receiving I reveal the gift to the givers and a new life together can begin.”
Suggestions for action
Ask someone to help you on your journey with Jesus today. You have a part in fulfilling Jesus’s mission, and you can’t do it alone .