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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Via Dolorosa 6/14…Veronica Wipes The Face of Jesus

Entering this Third Week of Lent, we continue to contemplate our journey with Jesus, Who “went out, carrying His cross, to the place called “the place of the skull”, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17).  I humbly pray that the contemplation of these solemn steps of Christ’s journey will speak to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scripture Reading:

“He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.”  (Isaiah 53: 2-3, NAB)

“Come," says my heart, ‘seek God's face’; your face, LORD, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!”  (Psalm 27:8-9, NAB)

“And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who (had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and) was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus then asked, “Who touched me?”  While all were denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.”  But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.”  When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling.  Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”” (Luke 8:43-48, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Jesus, my Lord and my God, whether or not Veronica existed along your journey to Golgotha, it does not matter.  We exist and we are called to wipe the brow of our sisters and brothers who stumble on life’s path.

We are constantly called to respond, go out and search for those in need, to lift up the fallen, to care for them and to wipe their brow - for there is something of God in each of them.  In serving them, we serve Christ. When we wipe the brow of the needy, we encounter the face of Christ.

Tradition had it that Veronica, who was amongst those in the pushing and pressing crowd, was moved with pity.

Despite all the shuffling, shouting and mocking, Veronica wanted so much to help Jesus; the fire of restlessness burns in her heart, she trembled no more.

She hurriedly took the simple veil off her shoulder, squeezed through the crowd, pushed the soldiers aside and ran out without any fear; what she saw was simply a man, the Master, the great need of some compassion and love.  Jesus trembled under the weight of the Cross.

Veronica gently touched the bloodied face of Jesus with her pure white veil.  Similar to the touch of Jesus’ cloak by the hemorrhaging woman, this touch brought about healing.  “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.” (Luke 8:46, NAB)

Jesus struggled to look up at the familiar face, the vision clouded by blood and nodded a humble thanks to her courage, barely able to say anything…the pain was so excruciating - the bleeding did not stop, the sting from the whips persisted.

Each time Jesus fell, the wounds would open up a little bit more, precious blood dripping, blessing and purifying the path to Golgotha.

When Veronica looked at her veil, she found a benevolent sign by God, God the Father.

On her veil was miraculously transposed, the beautiful, adorable, Precious Blood imprint of the Holy Face of Jesus.  As the tears welled up in her eyes and pain pierced through her heart, she quietly pondered her encounters with the Lord and remembered the words, “Daughter, your faith has saved you…” (Luke 8:48, NAB). 

If only mankind had a little more faith, a little bit more compassion, we would have saved Jesus, our Lord.  But then, that would not have been the will of God.

Tradition had it that Veronica kept this veil until her death, and faithfully hung it at the head of her bed; it was then given to the Blessed Virgin, who left it to the Apostles, and they afterwards passed it on to the Church.

The miraculous simple piece of healing relic is still preserved in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, and the memory of Veronica's act of charity is commemorated in the Via Dolorosa.  The display of Veronica's veil from the relic niche above her statue are shown on the Fifth Sunday of Lent in St Peter's Basilica.

Quiet Pondering:

Consider how the blood and sweat has disfigured the Holy Face of Jesus to one barely recognizable. 

The King who entered Jerusalem was now evicted from the city towards the Place of the Skull – the same crowd who greeted Him with royal palms, was now mocking Him, spitting at Him, insulting Him…  How quickly the hearts of humans change, so easily influenced and swayed by the ways of the world…  Yet, for the same hearts to be touched and transformed by the love of God…to repent, it is so, so difficult!

Veronica, you gave Christ your veil on His way to Golgotha which He used to wipe the Precious Blood from His Holy Face.  In return for this great act of compassion, He left you His most Holy image on the veil.

You have shown us that it is possible for one person to act radically different from the rest, without any fear.  Being a disciple of Christ translates to faithfully following the path of radical discipleship, no matter what.

Pray and intercede for us to Our Dear Lord that His Holy Face may similarly be imprinted on our hardened hearts so that we too, may always be mindful of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid.  Take courage to get to know Jesus better today.  Be courageous to break away from the rest of the world and walk the path of radical discipleship.  In the world today, we are surrounded by the faces of destruction, corruption, greed, selfishness, the faces of abortion, human trafficking, suppression of the freedom of worship, racism, the power syndrome, the face of death...

With Jesus, we experience the faces of infinite love, purity, simplicity, humility, obedience, trust, justice, sisterhood, brotherhood, community of the one human race, respect for all human life, the hope of the life.

Jesus, help me to constantly seek your Holy Face within this journey through life.  By your grace, help me to remain faithful and mirror your Holy Face to others in all that I say and do.  Help me to share your message of hope, in a manner which respects all human persons in their freedom, in their dignity, but also in their weakness and brokenness.

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