|photo by Lawrence OP / flickr|
and carrying the cross
went out to what is called
the Place of the Scull
(in Hebrew, Golgotha.)"
As I look up this picture of Jesus taking the cross I remember a story about one of Medieval paintings. The rendering hung in a church in Europe. Outside the church’s doors the plague was raging. Thousands of people had already died. It was a terrible time of fear and grief and death. The artist painted a picture of Jesus suspended on the cross. This Jesus was covered the pockmarks of the plague. It is an ugly painting terrible to look at. The Savior of the world covered in the sores that swept through Europe.
In that village desperate folk would make their way down the lanes to the little church. They would silently file in the door, walk down the aisle and kneel before the Jesus with outstretched hands and his broken infested body. They would look up and see the pain and the suffering of God’s son. And after a long time—they would shuffle out into a world of terror and death. But, many would take with them the memory of one who stretched out his hands on a cross--one covered with the marks of the plague. They remembered those hands and that body and that cross. And as they lived and buried their dead and also died they would remember that figure nailed to the cross.
Of all the symbols of the Christian faith none is more far-reaching or powerful than this second Station on Jesus’ journey. He bore the cross making him one with all those in the line suffering line of history. Rape, incest, sexual slavery, cancer, AIDS, alcoholism and drug addiction. The injustices suffered by race and gender and sexual orientation. But more: the depressed and the desperate and those who feel they cannot make it through another day. This cross brings to mind Ferguson and Selma and Iraq and ISIS and all those hundreds of kidnapped girls in Africa.
Leonard Boff has said: “He is in solidarity with all those who hang on crosses. Their humiliation is his humiliation. They do not carry their crosses by themselves. Jesus carries it with them and in them.”