Monday 18 February 2008

IX. Jesus falls for the third time

IX. Jesus falls for the third time

Illustration: Chris Snedeker

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world

I am the man familiar with misery,
under the rod of his fury.
He has led and guided me into darkness, not light.
Against none but me does he turn his hand,
again and again, all day

Lamentations 3: 1 - 3

VIII Jesus speaks to the women

My Jesus, laden with sorrows, I weep for the sins I have committed against you because of the punishment I deserve for them; and, still more, because of the displeasure that have caused you who have loved me with an infinite love.
My Jesus, I love you more than I love myself; I am sorry that I have offended you. Never allow me to offend you again. Grant that I may love you always; and then do with me what you will.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be)

O sweet Mother! Fount of love,
Touch my spirit from above
Make my heart with yours accord.

VIII Jesus speaks to the women

What sort of places are stations anyway? Stations of the cross...why stations? Stations are places where we stop, pause and wait for something to happen, or for someone to arrive. Perhaps that is why these are stations - we are waiting for God to speak, to arrive, and for something to happen. A lot of prayer seems to me to be about waiting, listening, hoping. Maybe it is like being at a station.

Even on a crowded station there is a sense of being with others, but alone. We take a step back to think - where am I going? Everyone is on a journey and we are all going in the same direction. Where we came from is different; our reasons for traveling are different - sometimes full of joy, sometimes sorrow and suffering - always hope, God will arrive.

I travel to London after school once or twice a week, and for me stations can be quite frightening. They are places where you can be called to witness something - someone drunk, and argument, someone crying. It is always difficult to know what to do, it can be threatening. Do I just watch and witness? Look away? Intervene? The suffering of those closer to us can be equally challenging and pose the same questions, but mostly all people need is to know that you are there, present, walking with them.

The women in this picture are waiting for something: justice, peace, mercy, compassion. Jesus speaks to them. He is present to them, they walk with Him, he walks with them: waiting for something to happen, waiting for God to arrive and for God-with-us to make himself known once more.

Sunday 17 February 2008

VIII. Jesus speaks to the women

There is something about this picture that speaks to me of repentance. In a way, this is the moment of Christ's passion addressed to me. So much of what takes place occurs in masculine society, the courts of the Sanhedrin and Pilate from which women were forbidden, the courtyards of soldiers where women would rather not be seen. But here, in the street, women are not only witnesses, their mourning makes them involved. 'Weep not for me', says Jesus, 'weep for yourselves, and for your children'. There is in the same sentence a deep need for conversion, turning back to God, and a responsibility for the next generation, the children.

In many ways this picture moves me to look in places I would rather leave in the dark, places of suffering and pain. I feel a 'sense of revolt at my own foolishness and triviality. Shame and amazement at the way I have trifled with life and grace - how could I be so utterly stupid! A real sense of being flawed and needing immense help, pardon - to recover some capacity to love God.' (Thomas Merton). Are you allowed to steal your own feelings from the mouths of others?
When you see the sorrow of those who suffer great loss, it is impossible to understand, and perhaps that is why it is easier to quote Merton than fathom something of my own. Love is shown most when love is lost; that is when people weep, shout and cry. For me the women speak of the tragedy of 'love lost', they mourn their loss, and wish with all their mind, body and soul, that they could return to a place where love is found once more. A place which can only be found beyond death, a place in eternity.

Sunday 10 February 2008

VIII. Jesus speaks to the women

Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.
Despairing Palestinian women during the funeral of a Palestinan soldier killed the previous day during an armed confrontation with Israeli soldiers.
5th October 2000

VIII. Jesus speaks with the women

We adore you, O Christ and we praise you
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

Large numbers of people followed him, and women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For look, the days are surely coming when people will say, 'Blessed are those who are barren, the wombs that have never bourne children, the breasts that have never suckled!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!; to the hills, 'Cover us!' For if this is what is done to the green wood, what will be done when the wood is dry?

Luke 23: 27 - 30

VII. Jesus falls for the second time

My most gentle Jesus,
how many times have you forgiven me;
and how many times I have fallen again and begun to offend you!
By the merits of this second fall,
give me the grace to persevere in your love until death.
Grant, that in all my temptations, I may always have recourse to you.

I love you, O my Jesus, with my whole heart;
I repent of having offended you.
Never permit me to separate myself from you again.
Grant that I may love you always, and then do with me what you will.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc)