Monday, March 30, 2009
The Stations of the Cross
I led the Stations of the Cross in church for the first time. I would like to share my thoughts with you...
Many centuries ago one man carried a heavy piece of wood up a hill, what made the job even more difficult was that he was battered, bruised, dehydrated having been beaten up by the soldiers just a few hours earlier. If this were to happen today, it will be reported over and over again with graphic visuals in many of the news channels we would probably watch it repeatedly, debate a few times at the kind of atrocities and after some time just move on, just as we did when Orissa burned or when nuns were raped. Why? Simply because it did not happen to us, it happened to somebody else, what can we possibly do? After all we have jobs to do, food to cook, kids to be taken care of, it’s not our job. Today we live in an insular world, an indifferent world where if it does not affect me directly, it does not matter to me.
As we reflect on the Stations of the Cross we will ponder over this indifference to ourselves, to others and to our God.
The First Station
1. Jesus is condemned to death: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
She wears clothes like this, she must be of loose morals; he does not do things like us, he is not one of us.
We condemn people and it is the easiest thing to do based on our experience, prejudices and beliefs. Even Jesus was condemned because he simply was not one of the people then, he did not “fit in”. Every wrong judgment that is passed can leave an impact on the judged person, and for many, such judgments could be a life sentence, but we are often indifferent to our actions and their effects on others. It is said in the Bible we are not to judge else we will be judged too.
Let us pause for a few moments and reflect if we have been passing wrong judgements on our fellow men…Have mercy on us O Lord.
The Second Station
2. Jesus is given his cross: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
As we saw earlier we judge people in doing so we give them a cross, often for a life time. The worst cross that people are made to carry is the cross of discrimination. We tend to discriminate people on creed, caste, race, colour, wealth and any other superficial attribute that makes two people appear different. It is sad that even today caste exists in the Catholic Church. I am sure that we still offer a community column in our very own Matrimonial bureau.
Like it happened with Jesus we make others carry the cross because we are indifferent to them. We don’t think or treat them as equals, human beings who are made just like us in the same image and likeness of God.
Let us pause for a few moments and reflect if we have been indifferent to our equality with our fellow men…Have mercy on us O Lord.
The Third Station
3. Jesus falls the first time: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
We all fall. In the first fall let us examine the personal dimension. The most important step in falling is to be aware of our fall. We cannot be indifferent to our fall. The prodigal son had to come to himself and when he came to himself he got up. So it is with us, often it is very comfortable to remain fallen it is easier to lie down than to get up. But, as we see Jesus rose up and walked. We too should do the same. “Yes I shall arise and return to my Father, I will say, I have sinned, I have sinned”
Let us pause and ponder if we are comfortable to remain fallen…Have mercy on us O Lord.
The Fourth Station
4. Jesus meets His Mother: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
Honour your father and your mother, the fourth commandment is very clear and leaves no room for ambiguity. There is a saying that the child is the father of the man, what it means is that when the child has grown up the child has the job of taking care of his parents in their old age. If this were true, old aged homes will probably go out of business. As we grow older and have many more daily challenges we tend to get indifferent to the needs and wants of our parents. Often money may not be the greatest of their needs as is our time or a kind word.
Let us pause and reflect if we have been indifferent to our parents…Have mercy on us O Lord.
The Fifth Station
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
Suffering cannot be explained but only experienced and no words will suffice to explain that until we walk through it. Very often we see a brother carrying his cross and we go our way unaffected, indifferent, because we are busy with other things, much like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. Unlike Simon the Good Samaritan was not forced with the cross, rather he felt for the wounded man and did his part. Whether we are forced to carry our brother’s cross or we carry because we felt his suffering, we must remember the golden words “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brother, that you do unto me
Let us pause and reflect if we have been indifferent to the crosses of our brothers and sisters…Have mercy on us O Lord
The Sixth Station
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The greatest journey of doing good to others starts with a small step, to dispel the darkness we just need to light a candle. Mother Theresa is revered today not because she did big things but many small things, which together became very big. When we go on a procession to Divine Mercy Shrine on Good Friday, the small water packets and the butter milk make a big difference in the heat, so it is for many others who yearn for simple things, but are not able to ask for many reasons, the biggest reason being our indifference!
Let us pause and reflect if we have been indifferent to those little things that would have made a huge difference to our brothers and sisters…Have mercy on us O Lord
The Seventh Station
7. Jesus falls the second time: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
The second dimension of the fall is the God dimension. The best way to fall is to fall on our back, because when we fall like that our eyes are fixed up on the heavens. Just like a child who when he falls down turns to his parents for help so it is with us. We cannot be indifferent to our greatest helper. As the psalm 121 goes “I lift my eyes up unto the mountains where does my help come from, my help comes from You, maker of heaven creator of the earth.”
Let us ponder and think where we go for help when we fall…Have mercy on us O Lord
The Eighth Station
8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
“Weep not for me but for yourselves... “said Jesus so long ago. Women have been at the receiving end of abuse at various stages of life. If they have survived infanticide, they grow up to be teased, harassed at home, work place etc and after marriage suffer domestic violence, not to mention acid attacks by spurned lovers and rapes not even sparing children. In many cases these instances are swept under the carpet because they are the weaker sex. Worse they are blamed for the crimes committed against them because they are supposed to induce the attacks on themselves by their behaviour or their clothes. They need to weep for themselves, because no one else will. Recently an ad campaign called Bell Bajao that ran on TV asked people to shed their indifference to domestic violence and take a stand by doing something simple as ringing the bell. I think we all can at least ring the bell.
Let us pause and ponder if we have been indifferent to such instances, have we been indifferent to our sisters when they suffer...Have mercy on us O Lord
The Ninth Station
9. Jesus falls the third time: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
The third dimension of the fall is the human dimension. God will send help when we call on Him, but very often through the hands of our brother who will lift us up. We are more likely to get a hand of a brother to lift us up than a rope from the heaven, because God often does not work the way we want him to do.
Therefore it is very obvious that every day there are many brothers out there who are desperate for our hands to pull them up.
Let us pause and think - Have we been indifferent to their calls for help…Have mercy on us O Lord
The Tenth Station
10. Jesus is stripped off His garments: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
The greatest possession of a person is his or her name. In the bible every name stood for the person’ character eg. Adam (created from earth) Moses (taken out of water). Every name encapsulates the person, just think what Jesus, Gandhi and Hitler bring to mind. To strip a person of his garments, is to strip the person of his dignity, today we strip people of their dignity when we strip them of their name and the character that is within their name. Character assassination is painful and demeaning as physically stripping someone. Gossip and harmless rumours are the start of a character stripping. Also nick names, funny names are not funny because they take away from the person his or her dignity and the name given by God. Remember he calls each by our name just as he did to Zacchaeus. He called me by my name, by my name and since nothing has been the same. He called me by my name, by my name.
Let us pause and reflect if we have been guilty of stripping the dignity of our fellow men by character assassination, have we unknowingly been part of a character assassination by simply spreading gossip…Have mercy on us O Lord
The Eleventh Station
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
So far we have seen more of the indifference in the interpersonal dimension, now we will move on to the dimension of our relationship with God. The Passion of Christ movie was so gruesome that some people could not watch it entirely. It carried the rating of R due to excessive violence. We know the violence is what happened in Calvary to our God who took the form of a man. We know Jesus died for our sins and he was nailed to the cross for our sins.
Our sins were the nails on the Jesus’ cross. When we sin, we hammer yet another nail deep into the hands of Christ even today.
Let us pause and ponder - Have we been indifferent to this? Are we conscious of the
pain we cause to Christ?
But he was wounded for our transgressions and he was tortured for our iniquities and His chastisement has brought us healing and by His scourging we are made whole.
Have mercy on us O Lord
The Twelfth station
12. Jesus dies on the cross: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
The Word of God is living and active far sharper than a two edged sword. God is speaking through scripture to those who choose to hear. Jesus said “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”, if we do not eat then we become weak and we know that starvation may lead to death, likewise our faith needs to be sustained by the Word of God. During difficult situations when we are clueless what to do next, do we run to the scriptures or do we seek the assistance of stars and fortune tellers?
Let us pause and reflect if we are indifferent to our spiritual health by neglecting the WOG…Have mercy on us O Lord
The Thirteenth Station
13. Jesus' body is removed from the cross and laid on Mary’s lap: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
“Do what he asks you to do” – said Mary as the precedent to the first miracle. In it lies the simple message to all, do what Jesus says or even better follow what Jesus did. In this station we will examine one of the important facets of Jesus, namely, prayer. The Son of God prayed to His Father always and is an example for us to follow. Prayer helps to build a deeper relationship with God. Let us shed our indifference to prayer life and make it a point to pray for us primarily and then in turn for others as Mary intercedes for those in need. She knew that the people at the feast were in urgent need and she knew that Jesus will supply their need. She constantly prays for us, when we seek her intercession. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Let us pause and reflect if we have neglected prayer… Have mercy on us O Lord
The Fourteenth Station
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb: We adore you O Christ and we bless you...
Our relationship with God can become dead when we are far removed from God, we find so many things that are of less importance to keep us occupied that we ignore the many graces that are given to us. As we know the sacraments are the outward sign of the inward grace. The sacraments help us to revive our dead spiritual life to be given a new lease of life. The sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist can be received regularly to renew our relationship with God. But how often do we approach these channels of grace, with fervour and excitement to meet the Lord and His forgiveness? Whereas with our indifferent attitude it is more often done as a routine and with no respect. Are we aware of this?
Let us pause and ponder if we have been indifferent to the graces that God offers to
us because we have not received the sacraments…Have mercy on us O Lord
We live in a world which is cold and insular because we have often become indifferent to the three dimensions we have seen in this Stations of the Cross, we are often indifferent to ourselves, our fellow men and our God! Through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord promises to break our hearts of stone and give a heart of flesh for love alone. Let us pray for a change of heart, to open ourselves and be sensitive Christians in this world irrespective of the situations and circumstances. Change my heart O Lord
For the intensions of the Holy Father
Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to Father...
I do not yet know if this struck a chord with the people, if it does with you drop a line.