"And there followed him a great multitude of the people,
and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turned to them and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep
for yourselves and for your children.'"
--Luke 23. 27-28 (NRSV)
Only one Gospel tells the story. It would have to be Luke whose compassion flows like a river from those first pages until the end of his story. As Jesus stumbled up the hill—blood-streaked and cross-eyed with pain—along the road—always along the road—he saw the women. Fitting, really. They had always been there. Mary, the Mother. Elizabeth, the mother of John. Old wrinkled Anna who saw in his tiny face what no one else saw. His Mother at the wedding feast. Mary and Martha filling his heart with gladness. But all the other Mary’s along the road. Magdalene, the mother of the sons of Zebedee. The mother of James and John. The Mary that washed his feet with her hair. The other Mary.But there were others—oh, so many others along the road. The poor widow searching in desperation for a lost coin. The woman, naked and ashamed found in adultery. The Canaanite woman. The woman with an issue of blood. The woman who left her waterpot changed forever.
That Cross-day he called them: the daughters of Jerusalem. So how could his church ignore and push to the sidelines these daughters that always pepper the roads. How can we rage about birth control, abortion—even to save the life of a woman? Even to force a fourteen year old to have her father’s child. Do these daughters of Jerusalem have no rights? Or shall we simply consign them to burkas and tiny churches where no man will serve and lesser roles like housewife or spouse. These daughters of Jerusalem have come so far. But at every step there has been a wall or a barrier or a resounding: “No!”
Not paid near enough as the men. Genital mutilation at the hands of some man. Rape. Ethnic cleaning. Slut. Bitch. Whore. Sexual trafficking. Abuse. Abuse. Abuse. Rage over food stamps for some old woman in a wheelchair. Passing laws to send them back—forgetting we would have no one to clean our toilets, mop our floors or dust our shelves.
Jesus heard their cries even in his pain. Tenderly he spoke: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." Let us weep too. Let us remember these daughters of Jerusalem who always line the roads. And let us remember the tenderness of Jesus—and let us determine to make their plight better.
(The contemporary picture of Jesus and the women was done by artist, Cecile L.K. Martin, Seneca, South Carolina. If you are interested in her work she can be reached at email@example.com)