Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Week: Via Dolorosa

Come, all who pass by the way, pay attention and see: Is there any pain like my pain, which has been ruthlessly inflicted upon me - Lamentations 1 :12

Back on that retreat many years ago, it was proposed that Barabbas, curious as to the fate of the one taking his place, followed Jesus on the road to Calvary. My own human inclinations tell me that this is quite likely.

If you were Barabbas, would you have followed? If you did, what would you have seen?

There stands....barely.....Jesus; severely beaten from a scourging meant to bring him to the brink of death, covered with dirt, blood, and spit; a "crown" of thorns...large thorns...piercing his head and brow; eyes and face swollen, hardly recognizable.

The Roman soldiers continue to push him around, laugh at him, slap him, and mock him. 

They place the heavy crossbeam on his shoulders and give him a shove in the direction they want him to go.

If Barabbas was watching, I'm sure he was thinking "That could be me.....that should be me."

Just a Man and His Boy and a Lamb

You're nearing Jerusalem. What a great day as you travel with your young son, telling him about the great things God has done for His people....just as your father did with you when you were a young boy. 

Your son is so full of life....and questions too, as he asks "Abba, what will it be like? What will we see?" you love hearing him call you that....Daddy. He won't be calling you that much longer, as only little children use that term of endearment to their fathers. He is beginning to grow up, to become more responsible, and that's why you have put him in charge of the sacrificial lamb. "Keep your eye on the lamb my son" you remind him as the two of you walk along.

But as you near the city, you do not hear festive voices, but angry ones. You do not hear festive music, but shouting and cursing. What can this mean? What is all of this about?

You press your way through the crowd and cannot believe your eyes. Why today, of all days, are the Romans sending men to their death?

The first one approaches, begging for mercy, asking the crowd to take pity on him. They in turn laugh at him and shout all the louder.

The second one is coming now...and far from begging for anything, he is the one jeering at the crowd, cursing, and spitting at them. He cannot pass quickly enough.

And just as he does pass, the soldiers are stopping him and the first one too. Why are they stopping? Go already! Get on with it! Leave us so we can celebrate our feast!

Women, Woa Man, Woe Men, and WOMAN

You really can't believe this is happening. They're going to kill Jesus! Isn't this mob made up of many of the same people you saw shouting "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord?" The words they are using now are obscene and offensive, not words meant for a young girl to hear.

So you move closer to that group of women, hoping the crowd will have a little more respect around them.....they don't.

"Look! There he is!" you hear someone say.

There is a short pause of disbelief coupled with some gasps. For many, this is the first time they have seen him since yesterday or more. He's been beaten so can see drops of blood falling to the ground.

Suddenly, the women you are near begin to wail loudly As Jesus nears them, he finds the strength to tell them not to cry for him but for their children. He says a few other things you can't quite make out, and as the soldiers shove him along and hit him, you watch as Jesus falls to the ground, the weight of the cross falling upon him...driving him to the dirt.

The soldiers begin to argue among themselves. One of them is admonishing the others for hitting Jesus. He's not being compassionate though. He says they'll ruin "the fun" if Jesus dies before they get to crucify him. "He's practically crawling already, you fools!" you hear him say.

You seize the opportunity and run to Jesus....wiping his face with your rag....and the Author of Salvation is looking into your eyes.

You hear your mother screaming at you. "Veronica! Veronica! Get away from there!" Just then, one of the soldiers notices you, and makes a violent move toward you. A woman rushes in and pulls you away.

The soldier is cursing at you, while that same woman is now crying over Jesus....on her knees over him...sheltering him. He's saying something to her, but you can't make it out.

Another soldier moves towards her as a man pulls her away and she cries "Jesus!"

He responds, "Mother....."

You look at the rag you used to wipe his face. His image remains.

Just a Man and His Boy and THE LAMB

Why are they stopping? Go already! Get on with it! Leave us so we can celebrate our feast!

Oh...there's another one just over there. He's on the ground. Just a few yards from you. 

There's a girl wiping his face; they chase her away. A woman crying, screaming as if she were the one being beaten and led to death. She's rescued by another man as a soldier moves in on her. "Jesus!" You hear the woman scream. So, his name is Jesus.

The soldiers get this Jesus to his feet, and the procession begins again. He stumbles and front of you.

You son rushes from behind you to see what's going on. You don't want him to see such brutal reality and reach out to restrain him. Just then one of the soldiers detects your movement.

"You! Come here!" he screams.

"I'm just trying to walk away with my boy" you try to reason with him.

"No! You come here!" he insists, and places his hand on his sword to make sure you know he means business. He asks your name. You wonder if you should give him an alias, but decide it could mean further trouble for you, so you give him your name.

"Attention! Attention!" he announces to the crowd and the rest of the detail. 

"You! Simon of him carry his cross!"
It's Holy Week, and as I stated last Friday, my posts this week will be about the Passion of Jesus through the eyes of the witnesses.

Let's make the journey together. Along the way, I hope we are asking ourselves some tough questions. Who are you in the Passion of the Christ?

Click here for Monday's post
Click here for Tuesday's post
Click here for Wednesday's post

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