Obviously, it’s not Friday–the day that I said I would be posting these reflections. So first, before we move on to the point of this post, I want to apologize for being really, incredibly late. Sorry! I will do my very best to get this week’s stations post up on time, but for now, here is last week’s post!
The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Pilate has disappeared into his palace, and moments later, you watch as the Roman guards collect Jesus, dragging him into the praetorium with curses, jeers, and jibs. As Jesus vanishes from your sight, the crowd explodes into an uproar of caterwauls. The pushing starts again. Elbows and hands and shoving. You let them guide you, numb and thoughtless, out from the Pavement and to back down to the street where Jesus will reappear to be led to his execution.
You aren’t sure how long you have been waiting, but suddenly you can hear the laughter of the Roman soldiers, echoing through the praetorium. A few minutes later, you see them. They are staggering and drunk. Between them, three men stumble out into the sunlight, eyes down cast. They are prisoners–criminals–sentenced to die an agonizing death. Crucifixion.
Jesus is among them, bloodier than the rest. In fact, the soldiers don’t pay much heed to the other two prisoners, other than the occasional prod or strike with a flail. It is Jesus who has all their attention. Jesus–the man crowned in thorns and clothed in rags–is their laughing stock. You can’t understand all of what they say because their language is different from your own, but you know enough to tell that they are mocking him. He doesn’t say a word.
You watch, helpless, as heavy wooden crossbeams are tied across the backs of the prisoners. Jesus stumbles under the weight, but he embraces the wooden beam, his arms wrapping around it and his shoulders tensing against the weight. For a moment, all you can think about is the rough wood digging into the unclothed wounds of Jesus’s shoulder–but you stop yourself, and try to think of something else. A whip snaps across Jesus’s back and he shivers into motion, taking slow but willing steps towards his end. Pushing sideways through the crowd, you follow.
The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time
You can see him faltering. His limbs shake with every step, his shoulders–you can feel their ache in your own. Blood drips down his face like sweat.
The crowd yells, their faces leering. You are having difficulty passing through to follow him. An elbow is thrown into your side. A heel lands on your foot. Their shouts are so loud your head throbs and all you want is to leave, to go home and never witness the world like this again. But you stay. You push forward. And then suddenly, everything comes to a halt.
The first thing you hear is the dull thud of wood hitting the ground. One arm of Jesus’s cross has fallen. The momentum of the heavy beam sends Jesus down with it, his raw body collapsing forwards onto the cobblestone street. The beam falls on top of him, and you feel suddenly afraid that he lacks the strength to stand back up. The crowd rushes in around him, but the soldiers hold it back. For a moment, you wonder if you could rush in–if you could take advantage of the confusion and reach him. To offer consolation or wipe his face. But the crowd is angry and you are afraid of what might happen if you try.
The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother
She looks to be in her forties, a small woman whose face you can barely see around the veil that drapes across her head. Across the street from you, she catches your eye. She pushes forward, ignoring the very real risk of being trampled by the crowd or being struck by a soldier.
As if by a miracle, she breaks through. Time seems to lengthen out, stretching like shadows at dusk. In just the break between heartbeats, she is at his side, on her knees in the dust. Her hands reach out, taking his face between trembling palms. Her fingers brush back the bloody matts in his hair. The moment is only seconds long, but seems to span eternity. Their eyes meet, lingering for a second before she is pulled away by a soldier and swallowed from your sight by the crowd.
It is only after she is gone that you realize why you recognized her. You have seen her before, from time to time, following him as he worked. Listening to his sermons with the joy of a child on her face. She is his mother.