When I look at the unfair judgments endured by Jesus for our salvation, I think of the judgments I have made in my lifetime. I mistreat innocent people and sometimes, sadly, those closest to me. I rush to judgment when patience is needed. Even my own relationship with Jesus is sometimes marred by unjust thoughts. Standing beside Jesus when he bore my sinfulness in silence, I experience a mix of regrets and a power flowing from him into my soul.
Jesus Takes His Cross
I have lived long enough to know that everyone has known physical, emotional and spiritual pain. It is unavoidable. … Facing my pain, disappointments, losses, betrayals, dreams unattained, I need to live my own version of Christ’s passion. I do not suffer alone. Jesus is with me in those who stand by my side, my sickbed, my embarrassment, my office, my parish, my home.
My final goal in life is life and joy with God in heaven. From my life experience, I know that the journey is determined by the goal. Every journey has potholes, both physical and moral challenges. I won’t forget that Jesus arose after each fall. He is my secret power to do so.
Jesus Meets His Mother
Mother Mary reminds me of my need for family support in times of suffering and loss. In such trying times I reach out to family and friends to help me get through the experience. I stop to think of all those whom I want to forgive, and I ponder how much I want to be forgiven once more for wounds I have inflicted.
I know times when I have been asked to give care to a loved one, a neighbor, a coworker, a stranger. … I find sometimes that I want to say “no” when asked to give care, but soon I say “yes” and get on with doing what is needed. At these times, I try to see the image of Simon, who said “no,” but then carried the cross of Jesus and was blessed by God’s Son. Simon made it possible for Jesus to accomplish the final act of salvation at Calvary, and I want to have that same privilege.
Veronica Wipes Jesus’ Face
Saint John Paul II, frail in his later years, wore his cross publicly. When asked if he intended to resign the papacy, he replied, “Did Jesus come down from the cross?” The wounds to my pride sometimes are worse than the ones to my body. Jesus looked awful on the way to Calvary, yet he paused and let a kindly woman clear his face. He rewarded her with an imprint, but more so with gratitude.
Jesus fell and got up for me. I know love made him do this. Infinite love will do the unthinkable. When I tire of being beaten into the ground, I know that Jesus wants to give me the strength to get up again. That’s why
he experienced falls — so that he could win for me my risings to carry on with my life.
In this remarkable scene, I witness Jesus halting his journey briefly to stand up for the needs of women — not only in that culture but today as well. On the road to Calvary, Jesus pauses to explain one reason he is
saving the world — and me: He is obtaining for me the graces I — and mothers and children — need to thrive spiritually and physically.
Lord, I praise you for your example of courage in your darkest hour on the road to the cross. I love you for winning for me the spiritual power to face my own demons and move beyond them because of your gift to me. I am learning to trust you, and I realize more and more how profound is your all-embracing love for me and all the world.
When I am vulnerable and wounded, I often strike back with insults, betrayals and slights. When I hurt Christ, he forgets the wounds and tries to heal me. Jesus welcomes me as a sinner into the chambers of his heart and lets me thrash about with my unruly passions. Then he offers me the love that would cure me of my irrational evil.
In my contemporary world, I am called to adore a crucified God and not dilute the cross by smothering it with roses or pleasant thoughts, making its meaning and value vanish. I need the shadows of Good Friday to appreciate the full possibilities of the Easter mystery. The most distant object I can see on a clear day is the sun. But on a dark night I can see the stars, millions of miles farther away. Darkness has its spiritual value.
As he was dying, Jesus gave his life calmly and lovingly to God, for that was how he lived. He didn’t leave any money. He left an incomparable testament: divine mercy, future life and sustaining hope. His deathbed provided the most profound lesson in dying the world has ever seen and will ever see. With this in mind, I pray that my last moments, my dying, will be filled with the same grace.
While countless mothers have held their dead sons in their arms and mourned desperately their loss, my faith tells me that at death, life is changed, not taken away. I carry the seed of eternity in my immortal soul. Like Mary, who was profoundly saddened by her son’s death, I mourn Jesus yet believe in his promise of resurrection.
Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb
I find the rites of Christian burial to be essential ways of surrounding the loved one with a spirit of faith, a belief in the future life and a way to grieve with a believing community.
Virginia Maksymowicz is an award-winning sculptor. In 2001 she was granted a commission by St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pa., to create these Stations of the Cross. Alfred McBride, OPraem, holds a diploma in catechetics from Lumen Vitae, Brussels, and a doctorate in religious education from the Catholic University of America. The text from this article, which first appeared in St. Anthony Messenger, is is excerpted from his book The Challenge of the Cross: Praying the Stations (Franciscan Media).