Published on Apr 30, 2014
This is a refelection on station 13 of Stations of the Cross.
Christine Riesenweber and Meredith Scrivner.
by Scott Scrivner
Veronica, seeing Jesus so exhausted and weak wiped his face with a towel. Behind the blood and sweat she saw in him a human being – a person who needs help. This station reminds me of people, who are waiting for my attention or help. Very often a good word, encouraging or reconciliation gesture proves to be enough. Lord, give me strength to see your face in other people, especially those who are poor, abandoned or disdained.
Watch the scene from the film Sympathy for Delicious. (VIDEO)
(due to language, you may want to first approve before watching with a child, sorry.)
In the movie, Dean O’Dwyer, also known as “Delicious D,” is an up-and-coming DJ on the underground music scene in Los Angeles. When a motorcycle accident leaves Dean paralyzed, he abandons his turntables for a wheelchair as his once promising career disappears before his eyes. Forced to live out of his car on skid row, Dean begins his descent into depression when he meets Father Joe Roselli, a passionate young priest. Father Joe introduces Dean to the world of faith-healing, an unlikely way for him to begin his quest to walk again. He soon discovers that he possesses the otherworldly power to heal people, but in an odd twist of fate, he is utterly unable to heal himself. Despite Father Joe’s warnings, Dean angrily decides to use his newfound gift for fame and fortune. He joins a rock band led by charismatic front man The Stain with bassist Ariel, and manager Nina Hogue. But his newfound notoriety is unable to cure the hurt that encompasses his life . . .
In the film, finding true healing for both Father Joe and Dean comes at a time when they have seemingly lost everything. In this scene, Dean recounts the kindness of Joe. Joe confesses his own failings.
Consider the most simple kindness of Veronica. It is the moments when we treat others as human—that truly stand out.
God, thank you for the kindnesses of ___________ who make me feel human.
Open my eyes to the moments I can be like Veronica, offering grace and kindness to those who feel less than human.
March 20, 2005 blog by Ronald Rohlheisner
(artwork by Georges Rouault, French, 1871-1958, Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world)
There’s a story of a young woman who, as a child, had witnessed her mother being murdered by a jealous boyfriend. Years later while meditating on a scene from “The Passion of Christ” she sensed, without being able to put it into words, that somehow her mother’s blood is connected to the blood that Jesus shed on Good Friday and that his death somehow gives dignity to her mother’s death.
There is a connection, even if we lack the words to explain it, between what Jesus tasted on Good Friday and what any person who is unfairly victimized tastes.
We have our own Good Fridays and they are not unconnected to what happened on Calvary two thousand years ago. Indeed, what Jesus underwent on Good Friday is, as this woman says, what gives us dignity when we taste the blood of humiliation, loneliness, helplessness, and death.
What did Jesus undergo on Good Friday?
Interestingly, the gospels do not focus on his physical sufferings (which must have been horrific). What they highlight instead is his emotional suffering and his humiliation. He is presented as lonely, betrayed, alone, helpless to explain himself, a victim of jealousy, morally isolated, mocked, misunderstood, stripped naked so as to have to feel embarrassment and shame, and yet, inside of all this, as clinging to warmth, goodness, and forgiveness.
Good Friday is when darkness has its hour. What does that taste like?
When we taste that bitterness there is little else to say other than what Jesus said when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and led away to humiliation and death: “But this is your hour – the triumph of darkness.”
We know what that means. All of us have moments when our world falls apart and when, as the Book of Lamentations says, all we can do is put our mouths to the dust and wait. Wait for what? Wait for darkness and death to have their hour, wait for (as Matthew says in his Passion account) the curtain of the temple to be torn from top to bottom, and the earth to shake, and the rocks to split open, and the graves to open and to show themselves to be empty.
written and artwork by Scott Scrivner
Jesus falls. Stations 3, 7, and 9 all speak to Jesus falling. Imagine Jesus carrying the cross—the weight, the overwhelming heaviness. Imagine now, the knees buckling—unable to stabilize for the next step. The hard ground receiving and the excessive burden of the cross crushing the body of Christ beneath it.
Once. We image the fall.
The hurt and sorrow overwhelms.
Twice. We image the fall.
Desperate needs pull apart.
Three times. We image the fall.
Hope fades, isolation creeps in.
I was recently introduced the imagery of the pelican as a picture of Christ through Len Sweet’s great book, Giving Blood. An ancient fable emerged in the 2nd Century about the sacrificial pelican, which was adapted and retold many different ways in the Church throughout the Middle Ages. One of the versions tells of a famine that was sweeping the land. A nest of pelicans were not immune to such a famine. The young pelicans who inhabited the nest were slowly starving. The mother pelican was distraught and overwhelmed by the cries from her starving chicks. She began pecking at her own breast—drawing blood—this is sometimes referred to as “vulning” (related to our word vulnerable). She continues “vulning” until her blood is feasted on by her chicks. In her sacrifice, the nestlings are saved from starvation.
Consider the image before you. It represents an “icon” of the scene. As I worked on this, I imagined the vulnerability and sacrifice. The love. The hope. And, in many ways—I think it exposes my own struggles in vulnerability, love, and hope. Consider again the 3 stations that report Christ’s falls. Can you see the vulnerability?
ONE: Jesus falls and feels deeply. To be numb is no way to live. We are not meant to skim the surface and merely make it through life. We are made to feel — to experience life. And while we may be overwhelmed with the hurt, sorrow, and even joy and beauty — ours is a calling to FEEL DEEPLY. We may avoid, protect, become cynical, hide, or even create a false version of ourselves in order to avoid what is really going on. In what ways do you numb/protect from “falling”? What affect do you think such avoidance has on your life with others? with God? And what would it mean to feel deeply the life of others?
Write a prayer to feel deeply your story and the story of others.
TWO: Jesus falls and is vulnerable. It’s not enough to just let our guard down. We go a step further, following Jesus’ example, and shed blood—sacrificing ourselves. Vulnerability costs us. Jesus is on his way to crucifixion, and even getting their is a kind of death of self. When can you recall moments you resisted vulnerability with others? with God? What does it even mean to be willing to “take up your cross” and sacrifice? In what ways does the pelican imagery inspire selflessness? And what would it mean to lay down your agenda to be present for others?
Write a prayer for God to reshape a healthy view of self-sacrifice.
THREE: Jesus falls and continues on. As a community, we make room for doubts—we even welcome uncertainty and tension. There is a lack of honesty if we cannot face our struggles with faith. And yet, I’m most struck by the third fall of Jesus—the vulnerability, the sacrifice, it was all there—but imagine nearing the end of the walk—could He have been most aware of the hope deep within? What hope kept Him getting back up and continuing on? It was the hope and love for us. It was the hope and nearness of His Father. What hope picks us up? What hope and purpose pours through us?
Write a prayer to move toward hope that sustains and reworks your everyday.
May we fall into the abundant life, feeling deeply all that is our story.
May we fall into the sacrificial life, that others may know Your Abundance.
May we fall into the hope-filled life, that moves us to great acts of Love.
by Gary Capliner
When Jesus was hung on the cross, they stripped him of his garments, fully exposing him before the gathering crowd. The humiliation, shame, and loss of dignity would have been tremendous.
As you reflect on how this must of have felt, read through my sketched flip book retelling of a biographic article written a few years ago for the website killingthebuddha.com. Flip through the story, and take in the humiliation this young woman has endured.
*** note to parents: some of the verbiage of the story could be inappropriate for your child. ***
Take some time to think about something in your life now that brings you the most shame, humiliation, or loss of dignity. Write it on the marker board in BLUE. Draw a connecting line and write next to it how that makes you feel (ashamed, outraged, depressed, afraid, anxious, nervous, or apathetic) in RED.
Look at the responses others have written on the board. Look for one that stands out (“shimmers”), and begin to imagine how you could be a “real world friend” by standing in solidarity†with the one who is enduring such shame. How could you use your power and influence to change the systems that perpetuate this suffering? Draw a connecting line, and write your name in GREEN.
CALL & RESPOND:
V. Blessed are those exposed to humiliation by the unjust systems we have foisted upon ourselves.
R. May we fight through our doubts and apathy, in solidarity with the humiliated, to change the systems that breed suffering and shame, as You, O Christ, allowed your body to be stripped and broken to identify with our humiliation and crush the systems in which it was perpetuated.