On Friday evenings we gather for the Stations of the Cross. This traditional meditative prayer is designed to help us see what the Way of the Cross would have been like for Jesus. In a word, it was brutal. But Lent, and the way of the cross, is so much more than that: it is also pure love. To grapple with this reality,We need to see ourselves in the story. Let us reflect on the many conflicting feelings, the stark contrasts between a love beyond understanding and such burning hatred. Let’s see ourselves as characters in the events of that day, for Jesus’ Passion is our story, too:
Perhaps we are like the Roman Centurion, whose duty it is to enforce the laws of Caesar that Pontius Pilate, the governor, puts forth. Maybe like him we are filled with awe at Jesus not pleading for his life but, rather, laying it down—something we would never consider doing ourselves. Maybe we are more like many of the indifferent people who Jesus passed by on His way to Golgotha. Like them, maybe we see Jesus as a nice enough man who seemed to care about others but who didn’t know enough to do what the Pharisees and Chief Priests asked of Him. Living as God asks us seems too risky.
Or perhaps we are more like John, the Beloved Disciple, who saw the tears in Mary’s eyes as she beheld her Son and had her heart pierced by the sword. Maybe we are filled with grief at the capacity of the human heart to cause and bear pain as we stand with others in their suffering. Possibly we are more like Simon of Cyrene who comes along for the journey grudgingly at first, slowly coming to realize the incredible grace of being asked to help our suffering Lord in all we meet. Perhaps we are like the angry thief, lashing out at Jesus, our words filled with anger at why He won’t take away our pains and sufferings. Maybe we are like the repentant thief, recognizing our sinfulness and begging for His mercy. We might be like the Roman soldier whose job it was to hammer the nails; like him, we might feel we have no choice but to comply with evil or we might as easily suffer the same fate. Possibly we are like the High Priest who feels the weight of trying to protect everyone from false prophets and in our fear we are blinded to the Truth. Maybe we are like the many other persons there that day.
We are likely a composite of the characters in the story, filled with emotions and motivations that are often at odds. As we continue our journey through Lent, let us take time to see how we fit into the story, for it is THE story. It is one that we all participate in, whether we are conscious of it or not. Christ offers us His forgiveness and love this Lent, how are we responding?
Blessings on your Lent!