This week we will explore 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 and takes us through — Love that changes everything.
Today’s Bible reading
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said so.” When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. — Matthew 27:11-14
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by humankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. — Isaiah 53:2b,3, 6-7
More thoughts for meditation
The irony and injustice of this scene is striking. The murderous criminal Barabas is released, while the sinless One is detained and condemned. He refuses to bail himself out with words, even though he is the Word. He won’t rat anyone out; he even takes the lashes for his accusers and abusers. No wonder he told us to love our enemies.
The Roman Governor, and the Jewish High Priest who sentence Jesus to death demonstrate how God is often hidden and unrecognizable to those who aren’t looking for him. Pilot and Caiaphas are blinded by their selfish ambition, their interpretations of the law and religion. They don’t recognize Jesus as God because they are looking for theories and doctrine and the power of reason. But God is love and love is personal. It has a face. Jesuit brother and artist Marko Ivan Rupnik says, “This meek face of Christ becomes a place of encounter for those who are judged and condemned. In it they welcome the meekness and compassion of the One who was judged unjustly. Since judgment belongs to God alone, those who judge separate themselves from God. But if they contemplate this meek and good face, the gaze of the Judged One will embrace them too. He takes upon Himself even their condemnation.”
Jesus is still judged and silenced today when the poor and powerless are incarcerated, fenced in, walled off, and neglected, and He invites us into relationship with him there. Precisely where the world hates us, where we are not taken seriously by the powers that be, where we are pushed aside, laughed at and made marginal, there is Jesus, calling us into communion with God.
Suggestions for action
We are surrounded by mockers who do not notice your goodness and beauty.
Teach us to see You in the hidden and neglected places, to honor and care for You.
Be with all those who are falsely accused and incarcerated and detained today.
Let them know You identify with them. Show them the way through.
When we are accused, give us wisdom and courage and love.
Be our defense, by the power of your Spirit.
Thank You for winning our true freedom, freedom to know You and live with You forever.
May we use our freedom to suffer with You, where You still do.