The Way of the Cross – towards Calvary; The Stations of the Cross – Significant Moments on the Journey; the Via Dolorosa - the Anguishing Journey
It was a harsh masculine world that clamoured for the death of Jesus, judged him to be guilty; and treated His body with barbarous cruelty. And yet Into this same awfulness were injected moments of tenderness and compassion flowing from the hearts of women. I describe them as ‘Women on the Way…Mary – His Mother, Veronica and the Daughters of Jerusalem. Isaiah prophesied how Jesus would appear to these women:
Is 53 He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
Surely you would agree nothing surpasses the beauty a mother lovingly gazing at her precious infant…flesh of flesh, her most intimate of companions for nine months. The joy of Mary must have been uniquely sublime, even divine when Jesus smiled at her...Her Son was the Son of God! I’m now thinking of Mary, some thirty years later meeting her Son battered, bruised, bleeding, rejected, nailed to a cross. Their eyes met……..I can’t finish sentence ….I’m weeping as I type this!
What of St. Veronica? The beauty about her is that there is no clear evidence that there ever was a woman in the crowd who was so distressed at seeing Jesus smeared with blood, sweat, spittle and dust that she wiped His face and that its imprint remained on the piece of cloth. The tradition relating to Veronica would have us believe that her sensitive kindness was the sort of thing that should have happened…no matter who did it. How fitting it would have been that in the jostling crowd there was someone who cared enough to wipe the face of Jesus. He who was engulfed with bullying hatred experienced love…at a time when He most needed it. What was said of Veronica then says so much to us now about the richness of seemingly insignificant acts of kindness and consideration, acts that spring from the heart.
I can’t help feeling it’s shocking, terrible, if we ever allow ourselves to be so occupied getting important things done that it doesn’t occur to us to allow time for tokens of love – the kind word, the hug, the brief prayer. The ‘Veronicas of this world’ – be they men or women or even little children are obscure, unsung heroes . Did we but know it, we are surrounded by people starved of love. Indeed, a time may come when we ourselves yearn there be someone who shows us a little kindness.
And lastly there are those ‘Fringe Followers’ of Jesus within the noisy crowd accompanying Him towards Calvary. These are the weeping ‘Daughters of Jerusalem,’ who, like Mary, were heart-broken at the very sight of Jesus. For a brief moment Jesus was at the very centre of a ‘Love Circle of Pain.’ With their love-filled tears the women consoled Jesus; with His tender words Jesus consoled the women in their present distress and grieved over the tribulation that the future held for them.
These Mary, Veronica, and these ‘Women on the Way’ are now teaching me the immeasurable importance of our being SIMPLY THERE WITH PEOPLE, THERE FOR PEOPLE at times when all we have to offer them is our loving support.