Friday, April 09, 2004

via dolorosa

I. Jesus, true and total Innocent, you were condemned and sentenced to death, though You had committed no crime, by a cynical politician who simultaneously denied all responsibility for the decision. Oh, how often do I do what is expedient instead of what is best or most just? How often do I go along to get along?

II. Your cross, Your instrument of execution, is brought to You. You are not bound to it struggling and unwilling, but You take it up of Your own will. Lord, I know that for every one of us, not having a cross is not one of the options, yet how consistently I set out to avoid bearing it. I could bear it with You and offer it as gift, but so often I fight and struggle and am bound and dragged, crushed and broken by it.

III. Yet, You are very weak. Up all night, marched all over town then scourged until nearly dead, the cross is heavier than Your body can carry, and You fall down. Yet You got back up, picked up the fallen cross, and went on. How often do I fall down and just give up and stay there?

IV. You meet Your mother along the road. She shares one of God the Father's attributes --- You are her only-begotten Son. She loves You, and witnesses Your suffering, and can hardly help but suffer with You; yet she consents to this, and continues to follow You, all the way to the end and beyond.

V. Even the guards can see Your bodily weakness, and they want to get You to the execution grounds still alive so You can be crucified. So they grab a guy off of the street and force him to carry Your cross, so You only have to carry Yourself. The evangelist identifies this guy, Simon the Cyrenean, as "Alexander's and Rufus' father," a sign that the people the evangelist were writing for knew Alex and Rufus as fellow believers. Was this where Alex and Rufus first encountered Christ, coming in from the fields with their dad?

VI. A lady in the street, bold in her mercy, performs an alms-deed for You. Seeing You nearly blinded by sweat and blood, she of her own volition wiped Your face with one of her veils. Am I ever bold in mercy, or am I chickenhearted, only being merciful to the respectable and deserving, when it's easy and without risk?

VII. Even with help from Alex's and Rufus' dad, this journey is more than Your bodily strength can endure, and You fall down again. You do not stay down though, and the guards do not force You up by Your bindings; You get up Yourself, and continue on. How often am I not persistent in going towards the good, and I give up and wallow in my woes?

VIII. A group of women were touched by Your suffering and Your sentence, and they mourn for You. And You, who so loved all humankind, pitied them, and gave them a prophetic warning of the days to come for them. Not good tidings. But a true warning.

IX. Nearly there, the grade changes --- execution sites are up on hills to better make an example of what happens to those who breach the Pax Romana --- and You fall yet again. And You still do not give up, but rise and continue. No matter how many times I fail and falter and fall, I must continue to get up and go on. Do I?

X. You have finally arrived at the execution grounds. Your last few possessions are now taken from You, including Your clothes. The guards are none too gentle, and the forming clots and scabs from Your scourging come off with Your undertunic, opening all those wounds again. You are totally dispossessed, without even the dignity of being allowed to cover Your nakedness, absolutely exposed. When the day comes when I am Called, I must go to God empty in order to be filled totally with Himself; yet do I cling tightly to physical or psychic "stuff": money, houses, toys, honor, respectability, dignity? You were entirely disdignified; why would I be more deserving of dignity than You?

XI. And then You were crucified. You stretched out Your arms and the guards nailed then securely to the crossbeam. They took Your feet and nailed them also, and they raised You up from the earth. Not far, not nearly to the skies, let alone the heavens. They posted your name and crime above Your head: King of the Jews. And they left You there to die. You are all-good and deserving of all my love, and yet I have given You this.


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