|photo by tm-tu / flickr|
Than this if we but knew
The names, and could relate them,
Of men whom rulers slew
For their goodwill, and date them
As runs the twelvemonth through."
--Thomas Hardy, "Unkept Good Fridays"
The Priest says, looking at his watch, "We are almost through. This is the Twelfth Station." One pilgrim wondered, if the Priest has more important assignments than this. Perhaps he has a luncheon date. Maybe he has to hurry back to the office and pick up that half-smoked cigar and get to work on his Good Friday meditation. He could be meeting with an important parishioner who doesn't like people to be late. Maybe he has done this so many times that these fourteen stations have lost their edge for him.
We've seen so many crosses too. And if we are honest we know that often in our busy-ness we also are guilty of looking at our watches.
But this Station should give us pause. Jesus is nailed to the cross. This is putting our watch away time. This is one of those moments we shouldn't let slip by like so many others. Surely we should be outraged when bigots hide behind freedom of religion laws to discriminate and categorize. Certainly we should wonder why that deranged pilot who took so many more with him when he died--was able to do what he did. We cannot really stand here and leave behind those sufferers in Palestine and in Israel or Tikrit .Can we bring our drones and place them at his feet. And all the ugly abuse that people hurl against people. These need not be diversions. Isn't this what the nailing was all about?
There is another Priest story I remember. I think it fits.The Father came into the sanctuary and saw a woman sitting in the shadows. He could tell that she was a hooker. Not only did she look hard but her makeup was smeared and her hair was a mess. The dress she had on was too tight and much too short. How could she possibly walk in those high heels? He wondered how old she was. Eighteen? Maybe twenty-five or thirty. It was hard to tell. The streets make people old before their time. She raised her hand and said, "Father can I speak to you?" He nodded. "I've been sitting here looking up at Jesus on that Cross. I don't know much about religion, my folks never were religious. And now with what I do I am ashamed to walk into a church with all those people there. But this is my question. "Somewhere I heard that Jesus loved everybody. I heard he even loved hookers and low-life's like me. It's probably not true. Tell me, does Jesus really love me after all I've done?" This Priest did not look at his watch. He smiled and said, "Jesus loves everybody--it didn't matter who they were or what they had done. And the roughest people came to him in droves because they knew he cared and he loved. Yes, he loves you too, especially you." Without another word she put her hands over her face and wept.
"Christ nailed up might be more
than a symbol of all pain.
He might in very truth
contain all pain.
And a man standing
on a hilltop
with his arms outstretched,
a symbol of a symbol,
he too might be a reservoir
of all the pain that ever was."
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com