Station IX: On the Other Side

"Under the Baobab Tree:  African Stations of the Cross"
“Under the Baobab Tree: African Stations of the Cross”

Scripture Passage: Luke 10: 30-33

30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

For us, we have the sense that this procession to the Cross was some sort of grand parade but, truthfully, this was something that happened regularly.  It really was just another crucifixion in the big scheme of society.  And most would have assumed that this poor criminal, already tried, convicted, and sentenced, already rejected by society, was just being dragged to a death that he must deserve.  And, besides, this was the eve of the Passover.  There was so much to be done–errands, food to be prepared, houses to clean.  So think of all the passersby, scurrying through their lives, many complaining about the traffic and the clogged roads that the procession was causing.  So, many would have just passed by on the other side, not wanting to touch or be touched by hopelessness and despair and death or maybe just not wanting or having the time to get involved.  And, then, again, Jesus falls.

Tradition tells us that Jesus collapsed for a third time not far from where he would be crucified.  A Roman column indicates the location of his third and final fall.  It has become part of a wall of a Coptic church.  During the Crusader period, there was a large monastery here, the remains of which are still visible today.  Standing there, you can see the roof of St. Helena’s Chapel, a part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where a community of Abyssinian monks live today.  This is the place where Jesus would fall for the last time.  This is the end of the road, so to speak.  The next station will be on the other side, preparing him for crucifixion.  This is the last place where those along the way could show mercy, the last place where they could help, where they could stoop down and gently help him to his feet.  But most would pass by on the other side.

This is uncomfortable for us.  After all, where would we have been in the procession?  I hate to admit it, but I’m not the most patient person in the world. I’m afraid that I would have been avoiding the traffic,trying to get everything done, trying to get everything in place by sunset.  We are so accustomed to living a life of faith needing Jesus.  We know we need Jesus.  We know that we are not complete without God.  We do not always live that way, often trying to fix things and change things and make it look like we don’t need anyone.  But we know we do.  We need Jesus.  But, here, here is the place where Jesus needs us.  How can that be?  How can the Savior of the World need me?  These three falls that are depicted in the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, uncomfortably show Jesus as vulnerable, as betrayed, and as needing us.  So where are you standing?

Jesus still needs us.  We are called to be there to feed the starving, to house the homeless, to clothe the poor.  We are called to be there to comfort the afflicted, to hold the grieving, to love the unloved.  We are called to be there to welcome the sinner and forgive the unforgiven.  We are called to open our church doors to all the children of God.  We are called to be Christ, to be Compassion, to be Love each and every time one of us falls.  So in this Lenten season, let us not relegate our faith to the other side of the road.  Let us walk the way that Jesus walked.

Grace and Peace,