Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Station VII: Jesus Carries the Cross

Artists and historians both have different views about this. Some err towards the idea that Jesus carried all of his cross - the vertical stipes and the horizontal patibulum. Others suggest, as this image portrays, that Jesus was tied to his patibulum. Either way, it is important, I think, to be clear about what is actually before us now. 

This image was taken from the seventies series Jesus of Nazareth. Research has suggested that this patibulum would have been anything between 57-80 kilos (up to 12 stones) in weight. Let us not forget the last Station, and the scriptural accounts. Jesus, having been tortured, takes his cross. Jesus, having sustained such grotesque body-wracking injuries, suffering from catastrophic blood-loss and almost certainly in medical shock, is caused to carry the weight of an adult across his shoulders, upon broken bones, sustained thy lungs that were filling with fluid even now. In other accounts of the Stations of the Cross, there are points where we remember Jesus falling a number of times. When we fall, we will have use of our arms and hands to break our fall, but not this shattered Lamb. The weight of the wood would have driven Jesus's face into the rough rock of the road, itself an open sewer - nothing to break his fall, no body strength and arms restrained. I sometimes wonder if there were not enough injuries upon this man's body to match the number of sins being forgiven by this most extra-ordinary act of love. 

Then they led him out to crucify him [Mk 15:20]

My prayer at this Station is for those who face execution, for those whose job is to administrate that sentence, and for those who are helpless in this world. 

Lord Jesus, you carried the cross through the rough streets of Jerusalem:

be with those who are loaded with burdens beyond their strength.
You bore the weight of our sins when you carried the cross:
help us to realize the extent and the cost of your love for us.
To you, Jesus, bearing a cross not your own,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever. Amen

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