Eyewitnesses to the Stations of the Cross: Part 4

CrossThis is the fourth in the series of reflections on the stations of the cross.

I began to wonder about the wide-range of emotion among those who experienced the stations of the cross first-hand. I wrote this version of the Stations of the Cross to reflect these conflicting feelings. It was originally set as a play and is out of my own imagination. It is not meant to be historically accurate. It is meant to put us into the events of that day, for Jesus’ Passion is our story, too.

Each day through Good Friday I will post another “eye-witness” account. As you read, put yourself in the story and compare your own reactions, motivations, hopes and fears with the character’s. I invite you to reflect with me:


ANGRY THIEF
I hate these people with their laws and supposed righteousness! Look at me, a common thief sentenced to die! And for what, taking gold from a rich man?

And Jesus, what a fraud! He claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Well, I don’t know where His god is now…what a joke! He deserves to die for making such outrageous claims!

But me, not me! And He even has someone to help Him carry His cross. “Hey, why don’t you find someone to help me!” I yell to the Romans. The whip is their reply. I hate them.

“Hold up!” they say. What now, can’t we get this over with? I turn around and see that Jesus has fallen—again. Isn’t that the point of having someone helping with His cross, to make sure He doesn’t fall.

The Romans grab Him and force Him to stand. “Good.” I say with a smirk. At least someone is getting their due today.

WOMAN OF JERUSALEM
This can’t be happening! Don’t they see what a good man Jesus is? He healed the sick, cured the lame, gave sight to the blind and hope to the despairing! Why should He die for this? 

Oh, Jesus what are we going to do now! You stood by us, said that we were loved by God. No one else ever said that to us… to me. 

The crowds won’t even let us stand near you now as though we are unworthy to be present at an execution. So, we stand here and weep.

I was there when the priests saw you clear out the temple. They were so angry! Will they come after Your followers, too? Will they come after me?

Oh Jesus! Oh my Jesus!

Eyewitnesses to the Stations of the Cross: Part 3

CrossThis is the third in the series of reflections on the stations of the cross.

I began to wonder about the wide-range of emotion among those who experienced the stations of the cross first-hand. I wrote this version of the Stations of the Cross to reflect these conflicting feelings. It was originally set as a play and is out of my own imagination. It is not meant to be historically accurate. It is meant to put us into the events of that day, for Jesus’ Passion is our story, too.

Each day through Good Friday I will post another “eye-witness” account. As you read, put yourself in the story and compare your own reactions, motivations, hopes and fears with the character’s. I invite you to reflect with me:


SIMON OF CYRENE
These children of mine are antsy today. I don’t know if it is the anticipation of the Passover celebration or because we made the trek to Jerusalem from Cyrene. The city is always busier than our home. But today it seems even more is going on. It is strange, like there is heaviness in the air.

After stopping in a shop, we stepped out into the street only to be met by an angry swarm of people and to avoid being separated from my children we followed the crowd. That’s when I saw the soldiers and a man—or what was left of a man—carrying a cross. What a pathetic sight.  The poor wretch looks to be barely breathing!

I asked the woman next to me who this criminal was. “Jesus of Nazareth” she said and began to sob. “Jesus?” I said out loud. This surely could not be Jesus! He was a prophet, a holy man! Certainly this woman must have meant some other Jesus. 

I must have said the name of Jesus too loudly because I garnered the attention of the centurion in charge. He yelled at me, “YOU! Get over here! This man cannot carry his cross any longer. You will carry it with Him!”

I was dumbfounded. Didn’t he see that I had small children with me? I am a stranger, I don’t even live in Jerusalem. Why pick me? Why should I be dragged into this?

That’s when the woman next to me said, “Help Him! I will take care of your children.” I didn’t know what to do. I was so scared. What if they decided to crucify me when we got to Golgotha?

The soldier’s spear made the decision for me and I went to Jesus and shouldered the weight of the cross for Him.

VERONICA
It was hot that day. The walk to the well took me longer than normal and I was sweating. I heard voices in the next street over shouting and wondered what was going on.

I was about to wipe my face with my veil when the horse and centurion turned down the alley. I was so startled that I jumped behind the well in the middle of the square. The people began to line the street’s edges as soldiers kept them at bay. They must not have seen me as their backs were to me.

First came by two criminals followed by soldiers with whips driving them onward. Then there came a man carrying a cross with another man barely hanging on the other side. He looked exhausted.

“Oh Jesus!” came the cries. Jesus? I thought. Then I saw His face and I brought a hand to my mouth. He was covered in blood, sweat, and dirt. How could anyone do something like to another person?

I must have been out of my mind because I stepped out from behind my hiding place and stepped in front of Jesus. I looked into His eyes and was met with something I did not expect to find—love. There was fatigue, for sure.  But there was no hatred or judgement, only love.

I did the only thing that I could. I offered my veil to Him to wipe His face.

That’s when the soldier saw me. He snatched the cloth from Jesus face and hands and threw it on the ground shouting, “Get out of here or I’ll find a punishment for you, too!”

I was so scared that I grabbed the veil from the ground and ran away, not even looking back.

Eyewitnesses to the Stations of the Cross: Part 2

CrossThis is the second in the series of reflections on the stations of the cross.

I began to wonder about the wide-range of emotion among those who experienced the stations of the cross first-hand. I wrote this version of the Stations of the Cross to reflect these conflicting feelings. It was originally set as a play and is out of my own imagination. It is not meant to be historically accurate. It is meant to put us into the events of that day, for Jesus’ Passion is our story, too.

Each day through Good Friday I will post another “eye-witness” account. As you read, put yourself in the story and compare your own reactions, motivations, hopes and fears with the character’s. I invite you to reflect with me:


KNOW IT ALL
Prophet?  Sinner? Doesn’t make any difference to me. The problem with Jesus is He didn’t know when to keep His mouth shut.

Now me, I’ve never been a religious man but I’m smart enough to do what those hypocrite scribes and priests tell us to. They’re so high and mighty; tell us how we’re sinners and unworthy to come into the temple while they parade around as though they are any better. A brood of vipers! Jesus got description right!

Now Jesus, He’s a nice enough man and all. He seemed to care about others, trying to help them out. If only He did what the vipers told Him to do He wouldn’t be in this mess. And what did all His good works and teachings get him? A heavy-wooden cross on His back!

Here He comes now. Oh my, look at the cut marks from the scourging! I didn’t know a man could take a beating like that and still live! He looks like He will collapse at any minute! Just then, He did. Fell right to the ground right in front of me.

The Pharisees are yelling at Him to “get up and keep walking, blasphemer!” Like they could take half the punishment Jesus has and lift a finger!

JOHN THE DISCIPLE
I’ve always had a special place for Mary, Jesus mother, in my heart. Every time we would come back to Galilee, Mary would treat us as her own children, feeding us and asking all kinds of questions about us.

When she said to me, “John, please take me to see Him” how could I refuse? Like the other disciples I had no desire to be anywhere around this mob—they might decide to do the same to me! Though I feel such shame for even thinking such a thought while Jesus, my Rabbi, my Lord, my friend suffers so…

We worked our way as close to the front as I could squeeze us in. The shouting became louder. The air was thick with hatred. The tears in Mother’s eyes just about tore my heart in two. Why did she want to be here? The pain is too great!

That’s when He saw her. It lasted a brief moment as the soldiers pushed Him to continue on this hellish journey. But the look said everything. Not a word was spoken, but nothing was left untold. She loves Him, and He loves her.

More than anything from that day, the look in their eyes at that moment will stay with me…

Eyewitnesses to the Stations of the Cross: Part 1

CrossA few years ago I was reflecting on the stations of the cross and I began to wonder about the different people’s experience of seeing His Passion in person. Of course there would be a wide-range of emotion, a stark contrast between a love beyond understanding and such burning hatred. I wrote this version of the Stations of the Cross to reflect these conflicting feelings. It was originally set as a play and is out of my own imagination. It is not meant to be historically accurate. It is meant to put us into the events of that day, for Jesus’ Passion is our story, too.

Each day over the next week I will post another “eye-witness” account. As you read, put yourself in the story and compare your own reactions, motivations, hopes and fears with the character’s. I invite you to reflect with me:


ROMAN CENTURION
As a Roman Centurion, it is my duty to enforce the laws of Caesar that Pontius Pilate, our governor, puts forth. We had been told to expect trouble during this time of the year—it was a time the Jews call the Passover. Sure enough, late last night something began to happen. I saw a man roughly brought into the courtyard of a house before the High Priest. People were restless.  Something was under foot.  I notified my superior who went to Pontius to warn him.

This morning, the Jews dragged this same man—Jesus was his name—before Pilate and indicated that he was deserving of punishment, that he claimed he was the King of the Jews. So, Pilate asked us soldiers to bring him in for questioning.  When there, Pilate asked him pointedly, “Are you the King of the Jews?” At this Jesus did not respond to defend himself, only saying, “You say that I am.” I’ve never seen this occur before, a man not pleading for his life before Pilate—he is a fair man, but can be ruthless.

Pilate brought Jesus back out and said that he found no cause for punishment. At this the crowds were stirred up by the chief priests. An order was given to attend to the crowds. I grabbed my spear and held it facing the High Priest. It was hot; the air was tense with anticipation. Everyone was jittery. That’s when Pilate said, “Each year at this time I release a prisoner to you. I am holding a notorious murderer named Barabbas. Who shall I release to you? Barabbas or Jesus?”

The crowds’ response was startling, even to me. They shouted, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!” with such venom! I wondered what could a man due to incite such hatred? Pilate gave the order to carry out their wishes so we led Jesus off to prepare him for crucifixion.

SYMPATHETIC WOMAN
I was preparing my home for the Sabbath, and for the Passover sacrifice to take place later today. That’s when I heard the commotion outside in the streets. Horse’s hooves, shouting, profanity, Roman soldiers’ armor clinking. Even weeping.

I went to the door to find out what was going on. I saw the chief priests standing nearby, conversing heatedly. Next were the soldiers pushing everyone back from the road. Then came two condemned criminals carrying cross-beams to the outskirts of the city. I wonder what awful crimes they committed to deserve this punishment. Something beyond my wildest dreams, no doubt. Sinners.  Hmph, that explains the shouting. But the crowd seems to be getting even louder now. Even the chief priests are yelling at someone.

I jostle my way closer to the street so I can see what criminal, what sinner, they are yelling at. That’s when I saw Him. Jesus. How can this be?

Just a few days ago I watched another procession where this same man was riding on a donkey, the people—myself included—shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The spit and insults being hurled at Jesus conflict with the palm branches we laid down before Him on that day. Instead of riding on the back of a donkey, now, he is carrying a cross that looks like it was made from the largest tree I’ve ever seen!

What sin did He commit? What law did He violate? The crowd seems so sure but I don’t know what He could have done to merit death like this. I had hoped He might even be the promised one—the Messiah…I guess not…

Insight from St. Faustina

zgift:

As we approach Holy Week, these words of St. Faustina are a great reminder of the power of Jesus’ passion! May we take time to be silent to reflect on His passion this coming week so to better enter into true humility…

Originally posted on The Quoting Catholic:

“He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus.”
– St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul (267)

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