The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
“The Lord emerges like a hero, like a warrior he inspires himself for battle; he shouts, yes, he yells, he shows his enemies his power. I have been inactive for a long time; I kept quiet and held back. Like a woman in labor I groan; I pant and gasp.” Isaiah 42:14,15
“Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last.” Mark 14:37
I like to consider Jesus’ last cry on the Cross. Jesus sucked in everyone including myself and all sins, all emotions, all lows, all problems into his sacred body on the Cross. It hurt him. And then he released it in his loud cry and death, once and for all. Like a hero he faced all our sins and their consequences and overcame them. Like a Mother he gave birth to a new me, a new people and a whole new world which has yet to fully come to fruition. The Lord was a warrior of patience; one with relentless determination. He kept his eye on the prize which was me and you. Throughout my life, whatever happens, deep down I have always felt that all is well. This can only possibly happen because I have this moment of Jesus on the Cross. No matter what happens no one and nothing can take that away from me or any of us. And this is a great source of courage.
I also think that I should be joyful when I see Jesus on the Cross or participate in the liturgy of Good Friday. Yes, this is a terrible day. And yet, I firmly believe that God would not have had it any other way. If there is ever such a mysterious concept as destiny, Jesus dying on the Cross is it. He once told a mystic saint that he would die on the Cross a million times over for us. Jesus wanted to do this for us in spite of how sinful we may have once been or continue to be. This is his way of showing us and proving to us who and what he is. I remind myself of this, especially on Good Friday. Jesus wanted to do this.
And so I hope and pray we may all more and more come to live and bathe in that moment of Jesus dying on the Cross for us. May we live in his light and love forever. Amen.
Nicholas Corrao – Sacristan & Maintenance at Old St. Mary Parish
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
“If at times our efforts and works seem to fail and produce no fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus…and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, in the failure of the cross.” Pope Francis
While there is value in developing benchmarks, setting measurable goals and analyzing outcomes, we ultimately believe in a God in whom concepts like “success” and “victory” are subverted. So much of the Christian life is not measured in these categories. Jesus shows us that his ultimate commitment is fidelity to God and to us, not success as we might define it. Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries reflects on this fidelity when he writes, “I suppose Jesus could have chosen a strategy that worked better (evidencebased outcomes) – that didn’t end in the Cross – but he couldn’t find a strategy more soaked with fidelity than the one he embraced.”
How does the passion and death of Jesus comfort you in your own seeming failures? When has your fear
of failure kept you from doing what you felt called to do?
Chad Griesel – Pastoral Associate
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
St. Paul tells us that we are buried with Christ in Baptism. In some churches, the baptismal font is in the shape of the cross or even a coffin. Entering into life with Christ requires that we die: die to sin and selfishness, die to desires that are not based in love, die to unhealthy attachments to wealth, pleasure, power and honor. Becoming a Christian means leaving some things behind so that we can embrace the new life of self-emptying love. The past year has offered many of us an opportunity to examine what is essential and life-giving and what are being called to die to as we renew our baptismal promises at Easter.
What needs to stay in the tomb as you emerge from this Lent? What old ways of living need to remain in quarantine as we move out into a new world?
Chad Griesel – Pastoral Associate
The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time
Sometimes the burdens of life feel like too much to carry. Even during non-pandemic times, juggling the many responsibilities that we each have, combined with a desire to be helpful to our family, friends, and neighbors can leave us navigating task lists longer than there are hours in the day.
Now, of course, we have the additional burdens of a year-long pandemic. Perhaps you have struggled to carry the weight of unemployment, the illness or death of loved ones due to COVID or the loneliness of social isolation. Perhaps you’re longing for physical touch… or even just to see the unmasked smiles of strangers as you pass in the grocery store. Perhaps you are struggling under the weight of racism or the exhaustion of pandemic parenting. Perhaps you are exhausted. You have never experienced the “pandemic pause” because your labor has been required to help save lives or provide food for people.
The reality is that each of us has been burdened in one way or another throughout this pandemic. But, likely, we have not carried the same exact burdens as our neighbors … or our strangers. When we encounter people whose burdens are different than our own, let us look upon them with compassion … as if we were looking upon Jesus as he fell for the third time. “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.” ~ Fr. Greg Boyle
Lord, help us to remember that each person we encounter may be carrying weighty burdens of which we are not aware. Please move our hearts to compassion so that we will relieve what burdens we can. Amen.
Laura Hancock, Director of Social Justice & Outreach
The Tenth Station: Jesus’ Clothes are Taken Away
When Jesus reached Golgatha, he had already suffered many indignities: betrayal,denial, judgment, scourging, mockery and ridicule. Then, in the moments before crucifixion, Jesus was stripped. The meager dignity, protection and comfort from his clothing was stolen from him before he was to suffer and die – naked, in front of a crowd. Out of love for us, Jesus was made even more vulnerable and dehumanized.
Much like Jesus, when people are convicted of a crime, they suffer indignities. They become inmates. Their clothes and personal belongings are taken away, chipping away at their sense of self. Some are even condemned to death. Whether justly or wrongfully convicted, they are dehumanized.
Lord Jesus Christ, you were made human like us and suffered many indignities. Help us to recognize the innate dignity from your Father, our Creator, in all those around us, and guide us as we seek to restore lost dignity in those who are incarcerated or have been recently released.
Meggie Moyers, Associate Director of Liturgy & Music
The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Having arrived at the place called Calvary, Jesus laid himself down on the Cross and willingly stretched His hands and feet to be crucified. This sacrifice opened up the gates of heaven for all believers who accept the reality of the cross and are willing to obey Christ’s commands. Jesus said, “Take up my cross and follow me.”
This means that my actions, my will, my personal freedom and my opinions must be offered up to the crucified Lord. It means that I must rejoice in the inconveniences and sufferings that accompany my daily life. This means loving God above all things and loving my neighbor as myself. All this is a means of personal crucifixion offered up to Jesus because we love Him more than we love ourselves. It was our sins that nailed Our beloved Jesus to the cross. If we desire the salvation offered by His crucifixion, we need to obey Jesus’ commandments by our personal crucifixion.
“We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your Cross You have redeemed the world.”
Kenneth Gardinier, Family Ministry Coordinator
The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time
“See you next time!” the smiling second grader sang as she skipped out the church doors. She had just received Jesus’ gift of the sacrament of penance for the first time. The burden of doing a hard thing had been lifted off of her, and she was light as a feather as she bounded out into the world! I have no doubt her joy radiated into the lives of the people she encountered that day
Jesus, disfigured and bloodied by our sins, fell under the weight of the cross a second time. But he did not stay down under the cross. He rose with determination to finish his journey, to fulfill the New Covenant he would establish in his death and resurrection. As we continue to draw closer to Jesus on the cross this Lent, we remember that God never tires of forgiving and pouring his endless mercy upon his children. As we rise up, taking up our own crosses once again to follow him, we can leave our burdens with Jesus. Then we too can go out into the world, freer to share God’s love and mercy with the world.
Come Holy Spirit, stir in me so that I may see how my sins bind and imprison me time and again. Free me from the bondage of these sins with your everlasting love, that I may better love others by feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and doing your good works while seeing Christ in every person.
The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
It’s not been my experience that mothers need to be instructed to weep for their children, to live in their childrens’ suffering as well as their own, or to worry about their childrens’ futures. It happens quite naturally. Yet this is what Jesus counsels the women of Jerusalem to do when he encounters them weeping and lamenting as he makes his way wearily through the crowd. Jesus did not wallow in self-pity; rather, he trusted in his Father’s plan of salvation for a sinful, broken world. It was this trust that gave him the strength to rise up and carry on each time he fell under the weight of the cross.
I have lost count of how many times I have been in a Beacon Moms group and a woman reveals a recent worry, stress, loss or deep suffering within her family, and another woman (sometimes a near-stranger) responds by drawing near and tenderly sitting in her suffering with her. Sometimes there is a relatable experience shared between the women, and oftentimes there is silently (or tearfully) shared compassion within the group. Time and time again, I see this shared suffering strengthen relationships of mothers merely because others put their own needs aside and lift up one another’s when they most need support. Reflecting on this station along Jesus’ way, I wonder if perhaps the compassion that the women showed Jesus strengthened him to continue in the same way I have so often seen compassion flowing in Beacon Moms groups.
How can I extend myself to be with others in their suffering? How can I offer my own suffering to Christ so that I can do the work he needs me to do in the world?
Family Ministry Coordinator
In lieu of the weekly message from the Priests, the staff of the Family of Four Parishes will be sharing personal reflections on the 14 Stations of the Cross throughout the six weeks of Lent. We hope that these reflections will be a prayerful way for our parish community to collectively walk alongside each other to follow Jesus during his last steps on earth. With each station, we challenge each other to respond to Christ’s call to encounter Him and others in a different way this Lent and every day of our lives.
The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry His Cross
Once we were like Simon, minding our own business, with a job to do and the health to do it. Simon came into town on some errand of his own, when suddenly he was caught up in a terrible event, plucked from the crowd to help carry a cross for a stranger on His way to crucifixion. Yes, that’s how it was for us, living an ordinary life when suddenly God drew us to the side of Christ with sickness, asking us to carry his cross a little way. Yes, now we share in his passion, and other Simons come forth to help us on the way. We are grateful for them, and we want the grace to be grateful for this gift of sharing in Christ’s passion, which is now ours.
Western culture has promoted the ideal of the self-sufficient person who does not need anyone else. We should stand on our own feet. It is humiliating to need others, especially strangers. But this dependency is part of being human, and it is embraced by God in Jesus at this moment. God says to St. Catherine of Siena, “I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritual and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another, so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me.” In Jesus, we see God needing us, needing a drink from the Samaritan woman at the well, needing help with carrying his cross. It’s okay to be needy.
Jesus, may I be unashamed to accept help when I need it, and may I be eager to offer it when others have needs. May our mutual dependence be a source of joy and an occasion of grace, knitting us together in the community of your love.
The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
During this pandemic, hospital staffs have become our heroes. Nurses, technicians, doctors and hospital staff all have the opportunity to become Veronicas in this passion of ours. Some have developed a professional manner that is more businesslike than compassionate, and we pray for them. Others have become the Veronicas who dare to look deep into our eyes, to see and sympathize with the suffering they encounter in us. For them we thank you, Lord, and for them we pray as they step forward bravely, to ease our pain with the pure and tender fabric of their own humanity.
The face of God became flesh in the face of Jesus, who smiled upon sinners with tenderness. He looked with pleasure on pompous little Zacchaeus up in the tree and decided to stay with him rather than the self-righteous and respectable people. He smiled on Levi, another tax collector, and called him to discipleship. He looked with kindness on Peter after he had betrayed him. But what about us? We do not see his face, and we do not even know what Jesus looked like. We are the body of Christ, and so we must be his face. It belongs to the ministry of every baptized person to be the face of Christ in the ordinary interactions of our daily lives. It is the small but necessary beginning of all Christian witness. According to the legend, Jesus on the way to the cross encountered a crowd of hostile faces, but not Veronica. She gazed upon him with pity, and to her he gave an image of his face. May our faces be shaped by the grace into tenderness and welcome, “true images” of his.
Jesus, may I see with your compassion and smile with your radiance, so that your unfailing tenderness is made flesh and blood in me. May I always be alert to those who feel invisible and despised, recognizing that they are your brothers and sisters, sharing your dignity, however much this is concealed by the bruises of this life.
Terri Balash, Director of Pastoral Care