Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Station Nine: Jesus Falls a Third Time

photo by caprockcruisers /flickr
A medieval peasant asked a monk what the holy fathers did within the walls of the monastery on the hill. In his eyes such a  place, walled off from the troubles of the world, must have been as close to heaven as anything. The monk answered the man, "We fall down and we get up; we fall down and we get up; we fall down and we get up." 

How can Messiah keep falling? And why would the Church choose this painful moment a third time? Jesus falls...and falls...and falls. Because, perhaps the story is true.

Jesus falls yet again. He is exhausted. Even though his journey is not far now—he falls opening up old sores and wounds. There is no time on this way of sorrows that our Lord has felt more defeated.

We want to turn away, standing here looking up at the all-too-human Jesus. But here we come to the heart of his incarnation. Jesus is more with us in this third falling than at any other point. We want a different kind of kingdom. The kind back there in the desert where we wished Jesus did not shake his head. Not all the bread you could ever eat—complete with trimmings. Not all the kingdoms so his power could change it all. Not even some holy miracle where all would see his glory and fall at his feet.

No. Not this Jesus. Not here on twisting winding way of sorrows. This longing is 2014 stuff. We’ve been there before and we’ll be there again. We want power that waves a wand and changes it all. No. Not here on this rocky path.

We cannot avert our eyes because we know, deep in our hearts that this kingdom is different. His kingdom is far different from the Caesars or the princes of the church. His kingdom divides families and friends and sometimes the human heart itself. No wonder the atheists are having a field day. Like the poet they mutter: “God, if you’re really God, fling us a dipper full of stars.” Why suffering? Why failure? Why me? And the only answer is a man who falls a third time.

This Station can march into any AA meeting and feel at home. This Station is for whoever it is that feels crushed and weak and hopeless. Flat on the ground his hopes seem suffocated. Here he shoulders the tragic fall of every sinner--which includes us all.

But this is not the last station. Thank God. Jesus will somehow shuffle to his feet. He has miles to go, like us, before he sleeps. And so the journey will continue. And we ponder the mystery. So different from all we expect of God and Jesus and his broken church. This one is with us all. God writes off none of the fallen. With the crooked sticks of our lives—there is hope for everyone. He takes us one and all—and even with our fallings—he will write a clean straight line.

photo by contemplative imaging/ flickr

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