Tuesday, March 19, 2013

They Crucified Him: Station IV

This series is not my own work, but all taken from Rev Robert Nash, S.J.'s reflections on the Stations of the Cross: They Crucified Him. I will post one Station a day in these final days before (and concluding on) Good Friday. Here is the Fourth Station.
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But the mercy Christ extended to the sinner after his first fall He does not accept for Himself. When He is down under the weight; not of His own sins but of ours, He is kicked and cursed and jeered at till at last, more dead than alive, He drags Himself again to His feet. And, as He forces open His eyes, weighed down as they are with blood and spittle, in order to see where next to place His foot, He finds Himself looking straight into the eyes of Mary His Mother. We have reached the fourth of the stations, the meeting of Jesus and Mary on the way to Calvary. When was their last meeting? Probably the evening before, when Jesus came in from the house of Magdalene and Martha at Bethania, (Bethany,) two miles out, and left His Mother behind. What a night has passed since! “Jesus,” writes Saint Ignatius, “spent the whole of that night in bonds.” He was flung into gaol, after the soldiers had finished their savage sport with Him. The stigma of the gaol! He is locked up, and wearily sits down on the hard floor of that narrow guardroom, with hands tied in front of Him, looking forward to the morrow which is to bring Him the Passion.

That was the night for Jesus. And for Mary? One thinks of the dreadful suspense all that night, as she remained waiting for His return in the house out at Bethania. He had gone into the city for the Paschal supper and His Mother knows that enemies are there, thirsting like wolves for His blood. Why is He not returning tonight? Every footstep she hears outside makes her mother’s heart beat more rapidly in hopeful expectation, only to sink the more deeply when the footstep passes by the door and Mary realises it is not He after all. Morning comes and with the first grey streaks of dawn, she is on the road to Jerusalem. Magdalene, once the sinner but now the inseparable companion of Mary Immaculate, is by her side. Well-intentioned townsfolk meet her on the way, and without tact or thought, they blurt out the news that cuts into her soul. He has been taken and the report is on everyone’s lips that He will surely be crucified. “There are tears which at their fountains freeze,” writes the poet, and Mary’s were of that kind. She was paralysed by excess of agony as she continued to walk towards Jerusalem, dazed and leaning on the arm of Magdalene.

Their last meeting — when He embraced her there at the door, when He was leaving Bethania, and she stood looking after Him, as a mother would, till He was quite out of sight.

And here is the next meeting in this fourth station. Such a terrifying contrast! When sin wreaks vengeance on the sinless Christ this is the result. And when He undertakes to prove His love for the sinner this is how He does it.

The Father did not spare His own well-beloved Son, and Jesus will not spare the Mother He cherishes. His anguish at the sight of the grief He was causing her was probably one of the most poignant pains of the entire Passion. It is comparatively easy to bear suffering oneself, but it is agonising to make another suffer, whom one loves intensely.

But Mary too must share in the work of redeeming souls, and she too must be given this opportunity of offering for men’s salvation Him to Whom she clung with a consuming love.

Their hearts were inundated with sorrow at this meeting but neither of them would have things otherwise. Jesus offered Himself, and Mary offered Jesus, each with a generosity devoid of any vestige of desire to withhold the offering, wholly or in part. For Jesus and Mary loved men’s souls, our souls who now are accompanying them to Calvary, and, although to give thus cost them unutterable anguish, their love of us rose higher still and both spoke their fiat. “Fiat voluntas tua,” ‘Your will be done,’ said Jesus to the Father. “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum,” ‘Be it done to me according to your word,’ echoed Mary. It was hard to say, but they both said it. It was harder still to mean, but they did mean it, and gave overwhelming proof of their sincerity when out of love for us, Jesus offered Himself and Mary offered Jesus, on the way to Calvary.


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