April 6, 2007


Stations of the Cross

We hope you will take time this Good Friday to meditate on the Passion and death of Jesus. You could use the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary as a guide or perhaps Jesus’ seven last words. Or you could say the Way of the Cross. Here are a couple sentences on each station to get you started:

Station I: Jesus is condemned to death. The Gospels say that the Jewish leaders incited a crowd to pressure Pontius Pilate into condemning Jesus. But he was dying for our sins, and Jesus himself accepted his Father’s plan for our salvation during his agony in the garden.

Station II: Jesus receives the cross. As Jesus is tied to the crossbeam of the cross, he already has blood trickling down his face from his head crowned with thorns, and his whole body has received a cruel scourging. Pilate had said, “Ecce homo!” (“Behold the man.”) But look, too, at what we have done to our God.

Station III: Jesus falls the first time. With his arms tied to the crossbeam across his shoulders, Jesus can’t even catch himself when he falls—and the Roman soldiers make sure he falls by giving him a little shove.

Station IV: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother. Imagine the anguish that Mary felt when she met Jesus in his pitiable condition, knowing that he was about to die a horrible death. And the torment for Jesus was increased when he saw how much his mother was suffering.

Station V: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross. This Cyrenian, forced to carry the cross when it appeared that Jesus might die before reaching Calvary, had no wish to do so. How long did he resent being forced to do this? We don’t know. St. Mark simply says that his sons were Alexander and Rufus, apparently members of the Christian community.

Station VI: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Tradition has bequeathed us Veronica, a name that means “true image” because a likeness of Jesus remained on the towel she used. She is apparently a counterpart to the man who helped Jesus carry his cross.

Station VII: Jesus falls the second time. Jesus falls again in a narrow street of Jerusalem where thousands of people are busy preparing for Passover.

Station VIII: Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem. At least some of the people are aware of what is happening and are sad. Jesus tells them, “Don’t weep for me, but for yourselves and for your children.” He calls for true repentance.

Station IX: Jesus falls the third time. Let’s remember who is falling: His nature was divine, but he did not cling to his equality with God. Jesus humbled himself to become a man and, taking on human nature, he accepted death on a cross.

Station X: Jesus is stripped of his garments. This is still another humiliation inflicted by the Romans, stripping him naked before crucifying him.

Station XI: Jesus is nailed to the cross. Pinned immobile in a terrible position, legs bent so he could push himself up to breathe, Jesus is nailed to the cross like a mere thing. As the soldiers do their work, Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”

Station XII: Jesus dies on the cross and redeems the world. While hanging there, Jesus thinks of others. He assures one of the men crucified with him that he will be with him in paradise, and he ensures that his mother will be taken care of. Then he prays Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and says that he thirsts. Only then does he say, “It is finished,” the task his Father gave to him. With the words “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” he dies.

Station XIII: Jesus is taken down from the cross. Mary receives Jesus’ body into her arms as she did in that stable in Bethlehem.

Station XIV: Jesus is laid in the tomb. In a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus’ body is hastily laid to rest. Jesus, a human like us and the Son of God, has conquered death with death.

— John F. Fink

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