It is customary, Lord to give something up during the season of Lent. What would you have me do without? I who have so much. Chocolate? Cream cakes? Cigarettes? Sweets? Swearing? The list is endless and I could give up all those things for the span of 40 days quite easily and almost painlessly. But what difference would it make other than making me feel 'holier' that my friend who makes no such sacrifice?
What would you have me do without? I who have so much Selfishness? Conceit? Envy? Pride? I fear before I ask, that the answer might be 'yes' and the giving up would be all too real, Lord. It would be difficult, painful, sacrificial, a real cross to carry for 40 days, and more?
A CROSS TO CARRY - ON FRIDAYS IN LENT IT IS CUSTOMARY
TO MEDITATE ON THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS.
The Stations of the Cross are a deep-rooted Christian tradition, mapping out in one’s own particular locale the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, that Jesus followed through the streets of Jerusalem to his death on Golgotha. The Stations respond to deep instincts for making pilgrimage, for symbolically entering into places and events that are much larger than us. John O'Donohue, Irish Priest, 1956-2008.
TODAY - THE FIRST STATION: JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DIE
We Remember Jesus was captured at night,
taken away by soldiers, stripped of his garments,
interrogated, tortured, crowned with sharp thorns
and now handed over to be condemned to death
by Pontius Pilate – death on a cross.
Jesus is condemned unjustly;
We continue to condemn people unjustly today.
People are condemned because of the colour of their skin,
their gender, their beliefs, because they are born with a disability,
because they don’t conform to our way of thinking,
the list is endless.
There are also the people who have been justly condemned, who have been found guilty, served their sentence and asked for forgiveness.
Does our society really forgive;
really believe that people can change
or do we continue to condemn them over and over again?
Hand washing is a complex metaphor at the moment. Pilate’s dramatic ritual abdication of responsibility for his actions invites scrutiny, but we can only speculate. His state of mind at that time had no deeper motivation than fear for his own job security. Meanwhile, hand washing is more present in our consciousness than ever before, and our motivations are clear: thorough, consistent cleansing of our hands may save our lives and the lives of those around us. For Pilate, his only concern was saving his own life!
It’s easy to get caught up in assigning blame or casting people in the role of hero or villain. People should be held accountable, yes. But we shouldn’t lose track of the fact that an innocent man stood nearby to Pilate, condemned by him and others to death, and that people are in similarly-precarious and life-threatening situations all around us today.
May we have wisdom and clarity of vision to see to the core of each situation, and respond with generous, compassionate hearts.
Jesus, you know what it means to stand alone
in front of those who reject you and don’t understand you.
Forgive our unjust condemnation;
and when we feel that we can’t make a difference,
help us to keep going, and to share your love.
Give us the grace to see,
and love you in all people,
both innocent and guilty.
Change our hearts that we may see with new eyes
those we might otherwise condemn.
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you;
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.