|Image by Jon Reischl|
In this particular range of Stations, we are given the women of Jerusalem; in others we see Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus. In this case, we hear some very human sentiments from Jesus. His words, although typically 'Jesus' amount to "shortly you will wish you hadn't been born". I have pondered this, in the light of the whole story, and to whom Jesus was speaking to.
This was further amplified by a comment someone made to me yesterday in another place - a Jewish friend who, knowing I was working my way through this devotion, said "you haven't got to the part of 'the Jews did it'" It is a fair comment, given the sentiments of some of our key theological forbears [Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, Martin Luther to name but a few], who certainly did blame the Jews for this eventual deicide. Jesus's sentiments to this gaggle of Jewish Jerusalemite women would also suggest his anger.
However, while Jesus's anger is wholly understandable (and that he still had the energy bordering on the miraculous), there is no sense that he blamed the Jews. For Jesus, this was the fulfillment of prophecy - a road that had to be trodden. How easy it is to blame, to finger-point - especially when it turns attention from us! I can no more blame the Jews for this act of murder than I can God for letting it happen. In a sense, the actors in all of these scenes were caught up in an embrace that was foreseen over all time.
This is also a scene of lament and mourning. The women are, once again, us - in futile mourning from a safe distance. I tend to favour the Station that features Veronica, because in that image, we see a moment of significant relief for Jesus. In having his face wiped, he most probably regained the larger percentage of his sight, concealed through swollen eyes and congealed blood which will have pooled in them. Her gentle touch, at such a time of agony and abandonment, must have been incomprehensibly soothing.
A great number of people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. [Lk 23: 27]
My prayer at this station will be for those who watch and wait with those whose lives are drawing to a close; helpless in the journey that lays ahead of them. I also pray for those who, like Veronica, bring comfort to those in greatest pain
Lord Jesus, the women of Jerusalem wept for you:move us to tears at the plight of the broken in our world.You embraced the pain of Jerusalem, the ‘city of peace’:bless Jerusalem this day and lead it to the path of profound peace.To you, Jesus, the King of peace who wept for the city of peace,be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,now and for ever. Amen