Friday, February 24, 2012

The First Station--Jesus Stands Before Pilate

"Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "'Are you the King of the Jews?'"

Cecile Martin, the artist whose Stations we will be following this year says that the Stations of the Cross are really mirrors. She hopes they will be confrontational. For in them we see “bits and pieces of life which we bring with us.” Could it be that if we look at these Stations long enough we may just confront ourselves?

If the Stations of the Cross truly are a mirror—what is it that we see here? This first Station of Christ before Pilate is portrayed in black and white. Two figures are present here. The man in the background is Pilate. The bald-headed man in front is Jesus. Perhaps the darkness in the picture is a symbol of the darkness of this journey.

James Sanders, a New Testament scholar has said that if we really want to understand the Scriptures we should identify with the bad guy. If this is true then we are the man in the background: Pilate. Like that Roman Governor we are privileged, educated with a great many advantages. We really do represent the have’s of the world. And before us is just an ordinary man. You wouldn’t look at him twice on the street. They called him King—this bald-headed man does not look like any king we remember.

But like Pilate long ago we don’t recognize Jesus. Cecile has said that many people have looked at this painting and said, “That doesn’t look like Jesus.” We want him to have a long flowing robe and beautiful flowing hair and a well-trimmed beard. And this one who stands before us—we’ve seen a zillion times. The Hispanic with fear in his eyes. The black man hanging off the side of a garbage truck. A little girl barely out of college worried about her loans. The man who has sent out 720 resumes and no job. In the last parable Jesus ever gave us he told of the sheep and the goats and said, “Inasmuch as you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me.” So if we are Pilate we must not make the mistake he made. We must look at every face we see. Who knows? Jesus may be a whole lot closer than we ever imagined.

Prayer Meditation: Jim Wallis tells the story of a church in Washington, DC that fed breakfast to the homeless every morning. The men, women and children lined up early waiting for the doors to open.
The servers took their places before the eggs bacon and toast. One of the workers was called on to pray. The servers bowed their heads as someone prayed: "O Jesus, we know this mornin' you will come through the line. Hep us to see yo' face. Amen."

Prayer: Help us to see Your face today.

(The original renderings of these 14 Stations can be found in St. Paul the Apostle Church in Seneca, SC. The artist, Cecile L. K. Martin is a member of that parish. She teaches at the College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia. she writes of her work here: "A benefit of being born in a Catholic environment, if one is visual, is the rich artistic heritage that permeates early life. " She continues: I have always wanted to make religious art but was frustrated in finding an audience and an appropriate exhibition space.  In 1995 an opportunity arose when her church was being built.

She says that the Stations are the result of two years of preliminary consultations, research, comunity/artist interaction and dialogue and studio  work. These Stations are meant to reflect the richness of diversity found in a contemporary parish. Ms. Martin can be reached at:


1 comment:

  1. Roger, I spoke to you as you were trying to locate Cecile for permission to use her stations--I'm glad you were able to reach her. As a parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle, I am greatly privileged to be in the presence of such amazing art each time I walk into this church. The art is riveting because of Cecile's gift of conveying the emotion and truth behind each depiction. Your meditations bring a new (and yet somehow always known) perspective to mine which enhances my journey through the desert this Lent. God bless the work you do and the gifts you share.
    Lynn Sexton
    Director of Faith Formation
    St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church