Friday, April 2, 2010

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery - Jesus Carries His Cross

Laude Arts and Gift

The din from the crowd grows louder as Jesus is forced outside the gate. This very act, so symbolic of expulsion from the Jewish community carries unimaginable insult and humiliation. On top of this, you see that Jesus has been compelled to carry His cross. What a heartbreaking sight. How has the world He created come to this?

As you watch, you see in amazement that Jesus has embraced His cross. How could He do that? How could anyone embrace such an evil thing? Yet, in that holy embrace, Jesus took the entire world into His arms, held it close in love and caressed it with His compassion and mercy. In this manner, Jesus accepted the road He must walk to save the ones He loved so dearly. You wonder if you could do the same.

With labored steps, Jesus moves forward and He falters under the cruel burden. The weight of the cross grows heavier as the sins of the world are heaped upon it. He struggles to His feet and beholds His mother weeping. They come face to face and their tears mingle in a moment of shared pain and anguish. Wanting so desperately to help her son and knowing that she can’t sends a deep sword of sorrow through her heart. It is one of many. They both want to linger but the soldiers urge Him forward.

Struggling to keep His balance it becomes clear, even to the Romans, that Jesus will not be able to carry His cross alone. Again, He is so unbelievably vulnerable, so human. Once again the question finds its way into your mind. Can He really be the Son of God? The paradox of His great strength coupled with His weakened humanity is beyond our comprehension. Simon of Cyrene is forced to help Jesus. What must have gone thru his mind? He must have been afraid, wanting to hang back, not wanting to get involved.

Imagine that you are Simon. What is your response? Do you pull back in revulsion? Do you hesitate? Finally, you muster your courage and reach out to grab hold of the cross. Jesus looks up into your eyes and in an instant you are transformed. Suddenly, an incredible realization washes over you. You understand that you actually have a chance to help Him. Yes! You really can help Jesus carry His cross. What kind of miracle is this? Somehow, thru Simon, you can actually share in Jesus’ Passion giving Him what strength, support and love you can. A more practical mind would say that this isn’t possible. It simply is not possible to go back 2,000 years in time and walk with Jesus. However, we know and understand that the crucifixion, while rooted in human time, also exists outside of time. Simon, then, becomes a door thru which we are, in some mystical way, able to endure Our Lord’s Passion with Him. What an incredible gift.

Meditating on this further, you see yourself face down in the dirt under the weight of your own cross. It is too much to bear. But, what is this? You look up to see Jesus reaching out to help you carry your cross. How could this be? Jesus who bore His cross for you should now come to help you with yours? Can it be that Jesus is Simon for each of us? How can it be otherwise? How else is it possible for us to begin to become one with Him? In this exchange of suffering, we are invited into the deepest, most wounded part of our Lord's heart. We will never be the same again.

The threads of the Passion draw together and lead inexorably to its inevitable end. Finally you have come to the place of the Skull. How aptly it is named. Can anyone really leave this place alive?

Jesus is stripped of His garments. It is the final degradation. As the last vestiges of His earthly life are torn away, you see how readily He relinquishes all that He has and gives Himself completely over to the will of His Father. Again, you wonder if you could do the same. Can you allow yourself to be stripped of everything that stands between you and God? Can you relinquish all? Can you give yourself completely over to His will?

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