Thursday, 26 February 2015


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.                                                                                                                                                                                       
Peter Clarke, OP

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