Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
+We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
“A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen with it is dry?’” Luke 23:27-31
There are those who hate Jesus, and wish to see Him dead. But, there are also those who love Jesus, and look upon Him with compassion. The women of Jerusalem (where are the men?) mourn for Jesus. They suffer with Jesus, as did Veronica, who also showed Him compassion. They weep for Him.
But Jesus, ever aware of His mission, re-directs their tears. Rather than weep for Him, they should weep for themselves and for their children. Indeed, Jesus has taken up His cross willingly, for the sake of sinful humanity. But, the women of Jerusalem and their children will suffer the consequences of the sins of their city and of their generation. The suffering they will face will be so fierce, Jesus says, that the day will come when people will cry out to the mountains and hills to cover them, that is, to hide them from the horrors of the day! Better that they have no children when the coming terror arrives, for the barren will at least be spared having to see their children in anguish. If sinful men are willing to crucify Jesus, the righteous One (the green wood), how much more so will they be willing to strike out against the unrighteous?
What is the horror, the tragedy that Jesus predicts for the women of Jerusalem? What fate will they suffer that is so terrible they will cry out to be hidden from the sight of God and men? It is nothing other than to die in one’s sins. Jesus came that all might have life. But, there were those who rejected Him. There are those today who reject Him. How can we hope to find lasting peace in a world that is so corrupt that it executes the One Who came to save it? The answer, of course, is that we can’t. We can’t expect to find lasting peace or our final hope in this world. Those who reject the hope of the Kingdom of God in favor of making this world some sort of heaven on earth are fools. Our only hope is in the sacrifice of Jesus that opens up for us the doors of the Kingdom.
This isn’t to say that we have no responsibility to work to make this world a reflection of the gospel. Of course, we do! But, our work here is not some vain effort to replace the heavenly Kingdom with an earthly one. No, the work we do for the sake of justice and peace in this temporal realm is a work dedicated to making the world, in the words of Peter Maurin, founder of the Catholic Worker, a place where it is easier to be good. Works for justice and peace, for the sake of the good, are not ends in themselves. They are for making God’s presence more palpable, more intimate, more readily seen and experienced. In this way, more people will be open to the good news of God’s grace in their lives, and will have their hearts formed better toward recognizing the God Who made us and redeemed us. It was Gandhi who said that, for the starving man, bread is God. It is our responsibility to see to it that the starving man no longer starves, so he can recognize the God Who is God.
We weep for Jesus. But, Jesus turns our tears toward a cause more in need of our attention: the battle against sin and for the souls of those who, but for the corruption of the world, might turn their hearts to God. Jesus calls us to dedicate our work in this world to making His good news known to those who might otherwise be lost to corruption.
Father, Jesus came that all might have life. Those of us who know Him, who love Him and who desire to serve Him, make our work effective in bringing the good news of Jesus to those drowning in the tears of a corrupt and sinful world. May we be instruments of Your grace to those who might otherwise never hear of Jesus and His redeeming mission. Amen.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.