Thursday, March 21, 2013

They Crucified Him: Station VI

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 Sixth Station.
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No one tries to deny that in the Sacred Passion we are faced with lessons which our human nature, loving ease as it does, finds exceedingly hard to learn and put in practice. For this reason, there is a grain of comfort in seeing our divine Master and Model avail of the relief, passing though it was, brought to Him by the action of Veronica.

The woman’s heart in her overflowed with sympathy for the poor Sufferer, so she pushed her way through the crowd and offered to wipe with a towel that disfigured and bleeding face of His. Far from repelling her on the plea that He preferred to suffer, Jesus, in this case, accepts what she is eager to give, and, as a sign of gratitude, leaves behind on her towel the image of His own countenance. The scene forms the subject-matter of the sixth station.

From other parts of Our Lord’s life come other examples when again He chose or accepted what was naturally pleasant. Thus, He went to the marriage feast with Mary His Mother, and we may reasonably assume that He partook of the simple pleasures provided. He was weary one summer evening and He sat down by the well on the roadside to rest. Quite exhausted, one day He stepped into a boat with His disciples, provided Himself with a pillow, placed it under His head, and soon was fast asleep.

There are times on life’s journey when a faithful soul will please Him best by accepting relief, or a pleasure or a relaxation, in this same spirit of gratitude. “When the fire is lit,” writes the gentle Saint Francis de Sales, “we see that obedience would have us warm ourselves, provided it be not done with too much eagerness.” The proviso is important. In a painful illness, it may be (no, it IS) more pleasing to Him to take with gratitude the remedy or relief offered rather than bear the pain with a bad grace. It is quite possible that when depression weighs down upon one, the right course is to shake it off by curtailing one’s penitential acts and one’s prayer and allowing oneself more time for lawful recreation. Someone calls whom you are delighted to see, but just at a moment when you had arranged to go out and make a holy hour. Naturally, you would prefer to speak to your friend. It is likely enough that you will please God best in the circumstances by deferring your prayer and entertaining your friend. For it is not so much the accepting or rejecting of pleasant things that makes or mars the holiness of a soul, as the intention which directs the choice. Our Lord “did not please Himself,” If He accepted what was easier and more pleasant He did so because He saw that this was the Father’s Will. It would be unthinkable, for instance, that as He staggers along on this terrible journey, He should meet the offer of Veronica with harshness and remind her that He had come to suffer and not to seek relief. That would have cut into her heart. It would have wounded charity, and Jesus was incapable of inflicting such a wound.

You will always find that whenever He takes the easier course He is actuated by a high motive. It is not merely because that course is easy, not merely because He is led by natural impulse. Charity is at stake, or He sees a chance of instructing others, or He wills to draw souls to Him by accommodating Himself to their ways. There is nothing wrong in eating with publicans and sinners, or taking rest when one is tired. It is not forbidden to enjoy oneself and there is no sin in seeking relief when you are lying awake all night and convulsed with pain. You are not bound to fast if the Church grants a dispensation. But the all-important point for the soul that would follow Him loyally is the motive. There was no difficulty about this in His case, for He always did the things that were pleasing to His Father. With us, the case is quite different. Always ready to take the line of least resistance, we can arrange everything to suit ourselves and then proceed to persuade ourselves that we want nothing except God’s Will — having first taken good care to have our own!

So, where there is question for us of accepting what pleases us naturally, there is need of great sincerity in probing and purifying our motive. Still, Our Lord’s action in this sixth station makes it quite clear that many a faithful soul will remain most faithful, not by always thwarting itself, but at times by accepting — with the gratitude we see Him show here — the pleasant things of life, “giving thanks to God in all things.”


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