In this Stations of the Cross, Jesus meets different people on his way to Calvary and he invites us also to walk with him.
Let us open our hearts to Christ as he carries his cross to Calvary and resurrects from the dead.
Prayer to open our hearts to the Cross
We place ourselves before you with love, we present our sufferings to you, we turn our gaze and our heart to your Holy Cross, and strengthened by your promise, we pray: “Blessed be our Redeemer, who has given us life by his death. O Redeemer, realise in us the mystery of your redemption, through your passion, death and resurrection” (Maronite Liturgy).
1. Jesus meets Peter
“But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him. “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly” (Lk 22:60-62).
Peter’s fall was his denial of Christ. He that has once told a lie, is strongly tempted and he compromised his faith in Christ. Jesus turned to look at him as he denied ever knowing him but Christ’s gaze was not that of condemnation. Christ turning his gaze on us is never to condemn but to compassionately call us back to him. His look signifies that he conveys his grace in our hearts to enable us repent. Christ’s gaze is not a mere look but a Divine look filled with the grace that restores us to God.
Lord help me to commit my thoughts and plans to you throughout the day so that I may avoid any compromising situation that will make me deny you.
2. Jesus meets his mother, Mary
…And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-35).
Jesus meets his mother whose soul is pierced by a sword of sorrow. Her pain is like a second childbirth. This time she is giving birth to him in faith. She believes that God is present in the tortured body of her son She believes this and that is why she is the Mother of our faith.
Are we able to see God in our life not only when everything goes well, but also when everything seems to be going wrong?
O Jesus, give us the eyes of faith to see your caring presence in every moment of our life. Help us to understand in the light of faith what sometimes is beyond our understanding, and strengthen us with your grace so that even in suffering we may remain faithful to you.
3. Simon of Cyrene
Simon of Cyrene is the fifth station of the Way of the Cross. On his way to Jerusalem he meets the procession (crowd) going to the place of crucifixion. He was just a passer-by when he was pressed into service by the soldiers to carry the cross.
In Pope Francis’ reflection on the fifth station of the cross, we are reminded that, “Only those who recognise their own vulnerability are capable of acts of solidarity. In fact, to be moved by and have pity on those lying along the roadside are attitudes of people who know how to recognise their own image in others — a mixture of dirt and treasure — and so do not reject them. On the contrary, they love them; they draw near and, unwittingly, discover that the wounds they heal in their brothers and sisters are a salve for their own wounds.”
In his encounter, Simon did not carry the cross of Jesus in front of him but instead carried it with him. This is to remind us that when we carry the same burden and walk the same way, we support each other and become one. Our direction and destination becomes one. Carrying our burden together lessens its weight and helps us to grow closer to each other.
Jesus carried the cross but needed Simon’s help. He needs us too and tells us, “you have not chosen me but I have chosen you. Therefore, he invites us to go and bear fruit so that his fruit will always remain.
Sometimes we too are pressed into doing something we wouldn’t necessarily choose to do. Are we able to share in the burdens of others?
Man from Cyrene, my brother, you who understand the pain of a slave in chains and the anguish of the one who is condemned to death, intercede for me to God, that my eyes too may see those who suffer. May this ‘encounter’ bring joy and comfort in our mutual understanding.
4. Jesus meets Veronica
“He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity. One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurn, and we held him in no esteem” (cf. Is 53:2-3).
The name Veronica means a true face. It also means that the image of Jesus, the Son of God and human being, has been completely revealed through suffering. Veronica did not wait to be instructed by the soldiers to wipe the bloddy face of Jesus. Without fear she voluntarily went to Jesus, she did not want to be a spectator like everone else. She might not have been strong enough to carry the cross with Jesus but her gesture was definitely an act of love.
When we reach out to others in simple acts of love, we reach out to God. Veronica could have just cried along with others but she expressed her sorrow in a practical way. As Christians, we are called to reveal God’s love through words and actions; we must overcome all fear with love.
Lord, give us a heart to seek your face.
May we take out the towel that is in our heart and wipe your face until it shines through our brothers and sisters. Imprint your face on our hearts so that we can see you in the world.
Nicodemus is the man we find in the Gospel of John who went to see Jesus at night. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and he met Jesus at night so that others would not see him. At least for a while, Nicodemus put off his caution about being identified with Jesus. Along with Joseph of Arimathea, he helped to bury Jesus’ body. Why? Because the cross is the greatest manifestation of God’s love this world will ever see.
When we look at the cross, we realise our inadequacy. A private faith in Jesus is no longer possible and we come face to face with the length, the depth, the breadth and the height of the love of God. The death of Jesus had an immeasurable impact on the life Nicodemus and if we truly focus on the cross, it will impact on our lives as well.
Lord, in the solitude of death, you do not condemn us, but rather embrace all of us. Now you know what it means to be human. You learned this through suffering, borne of us with love. Help us to believe in love, and become love. Even our tomb, like yours, will not be able to imprison love. We shall arise!
6. Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene did not notice that Jesus was standing in the garden until he called her name. The Apostles heard the words of Mary Magdalene and went to the tomb, but when they saw the empty tomb, they did not seek him. Mary Magdalene did not give up.
The Lord said to Mary Magdalene, “stop holding on to me” (Jn 20:17). This is an invitation for us to go beyond the materialistic belief of God’s mystery and the experience of faith beyond human understanding. Mary Magdalene passes on this mystery to the entire Church. It is an important lesson that we should not seek human comfort or vainglory but resurrect and pursue the living Christ.
“Around Jesus there are many people who look for God; but the most marvellous reality is that, long before, there is above all God who is concerned about our lives, who wants to uplift, and to do this; calls us by name, recognising the personal face of each person,” Pope Francis said. He added, pointing to the joy Mary Magdalene felt after discovering that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, it’s a happiness not given in small drops but rather as “a waterfall” that envelops our entire lives.
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb very early in the
morning when it was still dark. Our pilgrimage to the Lord too begins in the
darkness. If we have not yet met the Lord, we are still in the darkness, and
this is why we have to come to the Lord. We do not have to be afraid.
Let us make our Lenten journey with faith that the love of God will transform our lives. Thus, we will be able to say just as the Apostle Paul said, “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
Do we, as Mary Magdalene, seek Jesus without giving up?
In the face of death everything is put back into perspective. In that silence, Lord, only your voice is heard, forgiving our sins, reassuring us that the Father is waiting to envelop us with his mercy and to throw open wide the doors of New Life.
7. The “I”
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23-25).
Sharing in Christ’s suffering is an essential requirement for Christian discipleship. For Jesus the cross is the sign of his obedience to the Father (Jn 14:3031; Heb 5:5-10), a sign of his concern for us all (22:19-20). Thus the cross becomes also the symbol of obedience to God and of our love for others (Jn 14:30-31).
Throughout this journey with Christ, all the people we met were renewed and brought back to life. How am I? Have I taken seriously the invitation of Jesus to come after him, deny myself, take up my cross and follow him? Where am I on the journey to Calvary? What do I want the Lord to resurrect in my life? How obedient am I to God’s words?
Lord Jesus, you have invited me to carry my cross daily and follow you. Teach me to deny myself and open myself to your transformation in my life. Help me to overcome my self-centredness and grant me the grace to live for others and offer my daily struggles for the establishment of your kingdom on earth. May I take to heart your words.