|Copper Plate Depicting Station II
Samarpan Spiritual Leadership Center
Scripture Passage: Luke 9: 18-24
18Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”19They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.”20He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”21He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone,22saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”23Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.24For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.
The second station of the Via Dolorosa depicts Jesus taking up his cross. Tried in a sham trial and condemned to death, Jesus is handed the heavy blocks of wood that have been hastily bound together. What began as God’s creation pushed through from the soil has been taken and turned into an instrument of death. So, Jesus takes up his cross. The gates of the fortress open and Jesus is pulled to his feet and handed the heavy wood. He begins to walk what would become known as the Way of the Cross, the Way of Sorrows, the Via Dolorosa. He passes through the gate. There is no turning back.
We are told to take up our cross and follow. Surely that doesn’t mean this! Surely the Gospel writers meant it metaphorically, meant that we shoul learn to be like Jesus, to follow his example. It can’t mean this. Surely we’re not supposed to take this literally! So, what does that mean to take up our cross then? If Jesus was nothing more than an example of how we’re supposed to live, we could have just as easily followed Mother Teresa or someone else that did a really good job of being a human. And when you think about it, Jesus kept getting himself into trouble. He continuously broke the rules and there are indications in the Gospel accounts that he may possibly have dealt with some anger management issues. So, how do we follow THAT? We deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow. Now? Now, when things are not going well? NOW we’re supposed to follow?
Jesus was not just an example of how to live; Jesus was the very embodiment of the Way to God. And this Way of the Cross, this way of sorrows, this Via Dolorosa is part of that. It is not rational to us; it doesn’t make sense. But Jesus didn’t come to make sense; Jesus came to show us the Way to Life. Being a disciple, a follower of Christ has little to do with behaving (Thanks be to God!). Being a disciple means that we take all of this life that we hold dear, all of this life with which we’ve surrounded ourselves, all of these rules and all of these “right” way of doing things and lay them aside. And we begin walking–through the gate, into the mystery of something that we don’t understand. In essence, we walk into the unknown carrying nothing but our faith. We deny ourselves and open our eyes to what God has placed before it. That is our Way; that is our Cross. And we walk this Way of the Cross. It means more than following; it means becoming the very Way itself. It means yielding ourself to the mystery that is beyond what we know and becoming who we were always meant to be. It will take us through every aspect of life–through darkness and light, through suffering and joy, through doubt and faith.
It is not an easy way. The cross is heavy. The rough-hewn wood is splintering into my skin. Those along the pathway that are yelling and jeering make it even more painful. This was not what I had planned. I never thought that it would turn out like this. I mean, I had so much more to do. But I will go because I know that I do not walk this way alone. Life as we know it is not all bathed in light. Perhaps the darkness ensues at times to show us that God is there, even there, in the darkness, walking with us. And I also know that somewhere down this road, there is more Light and more Love and more Life than anything that I could have conjured up. And somewhere it will all make sense. But, for now, I will take up my cross and walk this Way.
Grace and Peace,