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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Via Dolorosa 9/14…Jesus Falls the Third Time

We continue to contemplate on 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 pondering of these solemn steps of Christ’s journey will quietly 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:

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8, NAB)

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11, NAB)

“Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf. He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours’.” (Luke 15:29-31, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Jesus, you continue to painfully walk towards Golgotha.  Each step taking its toll on you as you struggled to support the entire weight of the Cross.

Your breathing was getting heavier and heavier as your lungs suffocate by the lack of oxygen; simply breathless.

Droplets of your precious Blood have washed and blessed the streets of Jerusalem.

How can this sacred city even be known as the holy sanctuary, the abode of peace? Surely there must be a simpler way…

More and more people rushed to follow this ‘procession of death’…the wailing and cries of the women fade away in a distant…reminiscent of the weeping at the death of Lazarus of Bethany, not far away from Jerusalem.

Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14) recalled the Word spoken in the Garden of Eden…and truly, mankind have not learnt.

“What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13, RSV)

The soldiers kept pushing him, the crowd pressing him, screaming, “Crucify him!” (Mark 15:13)…Crucify the imposter!! the King of the Jews, they teased…and insulted Him.

Golgotha beacons.  Soldiers were setting the stage.  Suddenly, His bare feet step on a sharp stone, His knees fails Him, Jesus stumbles and crash to the rough path.  The Cross landed directly on the Son of Man yet again…this time, the most extreme, most severe…Jesus fell again for the third time…

Jesus looked up…only a few more steps uphill…His resting place.  He ponders the words of the psalmists and gathered the last ounce of strength.

“Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side...” (Psalm 27:6, NAB)

“The LORD is with me; I am not afraid; what can mortals do against me? I shall not die but live and declare the deeds of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:6, 17, NAB)

Jesus gathered the balance of His brutalized body, steadies himself and rise again and crawled the final steps…to Golgotha, carrying the ugly beams of the Cross.  To many of us, it may have just been easier to just lay there, give up and die.

The crowd cheered and clapped him on…some stoning him for fun… The soldiers whipped Him, yet again. He is all alone in this…

“…Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done…” (Matthew 6:10, Douay Rheims)

Quiet Pondering:

As you watched the scene of Jesus collapsing for the third time on the road to Golgotha, simply contemplate on these reflections…in your own life.

Have you ever stood afar watching, like the disciples and the crowd? Do you not share the life of Jesus and His ministry?

Were there times when you fail to speak up for the truth, for Jesus?

Were there times when you betrayed Jesus like Judas did, “…for thirty pieces of silver…” (Matthew 27:3)?

Were there times when you deny Jesus like Peter, “…I do not know what you are talking about!” (Matthew 26:70, NAB)?

Were there times in your life when you lie to Jesus like Judas, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” (Matthew 26:25)?

On acknowledging our shortfalls, our sins, our human condition, would you rather despair like Judas?

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21, NAB)

“…he departed and went off and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5, NAB)

Or repent like Peter, the disciple?

“Peter remembered the word of the Lord…he went out and began to weep bitterly.” (Luke 22:61-62, NAB)

“The Lord…is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NAB)

Jesus, give us strength and help us so that we do not give up easily and allow the cross of our sins put us down in our lives. When we fall, help us to rise again.

“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20, NAB)

“Prayer, mercy and fasting: These three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer; mercy is the lifeblood of fasting.  Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated.  If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing.

So if you pray, fast; if fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others.  When you fast, see the fasting of others.

If you hope for mercy, show mercy.  If you look for kindness, show kindness.  If you want to receive, give.”
- St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop (380-450)

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