Tag Archives: Catholicism

Betrayal

Standard

John 13:30 So he (Judas) took the morsel and left at once.  And it was night.

betrayal_2

Judas, one of the original twelve, Jesus right hand man and treasurer.  So many of us know him as the one who betrayed Christ.  Yes, Judas was the betrayer.  Yet through his story, we are challenged to look at our own “judases” in perhaps a new, softer light.

Who among us has not felt betrayed?  Have we not all seen betrayal doled out to others in our lifetime. In my own family, we had a betrayer.  A supposed man of God, baptized and baptizer, treasurer of his church, well respected in every circle he ingratiated himself into.  Yet this man was a man of horrible choices and severe personality disorder who raped and pillaged the women in his midst. Who even in his dying breath was violent in that he killed his wife in cold blood because she suffered Alzheimer’s and then shot himself, rather than asking for the respite he most definitely needed.  Like Judas, a man, who through the many choices in his life up to his last breath chose the darkness over the Light.

In my Bible study today, I was reminded of this man from my past as we talked about Jesus, washing feet, eating one last meal with loved ones, and of course Judas and betrayal.  It is Passover, and Jesus knew that His hour had finally arrived. (John 13:1)  He had humbled Himself to become man to teach us a new way to be.  He had performed signs and taught of love and forgiveness. We find him in the upper room, ready to share what He must surely know is His Last Supper with these twelve imperfect humans whom He has tried over the previous three years to teach and strengthen and love. Judas is there among The Twelve, with his life of poor choices, self interests, and frustration at not being able to make The Son of God adhere to his whims.  Had Judas not recently complained when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had anointed Jesus feet out of her love for Him and her foreboding of the changing attitudes that would only mean death for her Teacher?  Judas, who is about to make a very horrific choice, is to become the betrayer of Emmanuel, God Among Us (His creation).

So it is time for a Passover meal and The Twelve are at the table, reclining, dirty feet and all on the cushions set at table, waiting to be served.  Jesus, who in coming to us as a simple man and having disrobed His Glory when arriving here as a mere Babe to a poor carpenter’s family, arises to humbly serve His Twelve, in love and respect He takes on the humble service normally provided by the lowest of servants.  He disrobes and pours the water in a basin, much like He will soon pour out His Blood for the forgiveness of our transgressions.  Ever so tenderly, He takes each precious foot and begins to wash it and then dry it with the towel around His waist.  No one is left out of this washing.  Not Peter with his protesting nor Judas with his betraying nor those who most likely sat there in awe wondering if they were His favorite.

Has anyone ever washed your feet?  I’m not talking the pedicure you just received from the local salon so your sandals look pretty in summer.  I am speaking of whether someone you respect as a good man has taken your feet into their hands and washed and dried them with a cloth around their waist.  I have had this happen twice while participating in our church’s Christ Renews His Parish retreat.  The last service at this retreat is when our priest washes each participants feet.  When Father Paul washed my feet, I cried.  I cried because, who was I to have my priest lower himself and touch my stinking, dirty feet. I cried because I knew that it was my job to go out and wash the feet of others.  An overwhelming task of which I alone am not worthy of undertaking.  Yet, I hold fast when trying to humbly serve The One Who Sent Me to His Promise “I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in (me) will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Yet in our lesson today, Christ, The Son of God, The Messiah, The Savior of the World, Emmanuel, is washing feet of everyone, those who love Him and the one who will betray Him.

When Jesus is done with the foot washing, he arises and puts his outer garments on, much as He will put on His glory at the Resurrection.  He, The Teacher, who has given so much of Himself to the ones He loves, continues in these final hours to reach out to The Twelve to teach them a better way to live; a life of humble, simple acts of love to all, to the least, even to the betrayers.

Jesus then gives them a warning, a prediction, of sorts while feeling troubled that one of them will betray Him. Of course, none of The Twelve know of Judas stealing from their coffers nor of his hardened heart nor of his being tempted by satan and allowing satan to enter him.  They are confused and questioning.  Jesus does not condemn.  He does not bring to light in front of the others Judas’ sins in the past nor the sin he is about to partake in.  Jesus simply places a morsel of dipped bread into Judas’ hand.  Judas has been caught so to speak.  He must surely know that Jesus is on to him.  It is his last chance.  Confess!  Confess! is what I want to yell at him.  It is about choice.  Judas, you have the chance right now to make a different choice, change your heart and your ways.  Jesus is offering you with love and respect a different way to be, just as Jesus offers this to each of us no matter our sin.  Alas, Judas is a stubborn one with a plan of his own, and no willpower against the temptation of satan.  He leaves quickly and heads into the night, into the darkness, leaving the Light of the One who came to Save him behind in the upper room.  Jesus, the Light of the World, must surely know that all of The Twelve in the end will betray Him in their own way.  Yet, He continues on through these Last Hours showing love and forgiveness even unto His Final Hour.

So we are left with the knowledge that our choices will draw us closer to the Light of Christ or leave us wondering in the darkness.  Just like Judas, our life is made up of a multitude of choices every moment of every day.  These choices will culminate into the whole of our life.  A life, if we choose, of living in the Light of God or wandering in the night of separation from His Light.  “As long as it is day, (we) must do the works of Him who sent (us).” ( John 9:4 )  Those works include how we deal with our judases.  Are we filled with anger, condemnation, darkness?  Do we plot our revenge so that everyone might know of the hurt we have been dealt?  Do we hold that grudge for eternity?  I’d like to think that though we are human and prone to grudge holding anger, we might look to Jesus and walk in His Light of humble love and respect. It is not our place to condemn nor judge.  It is God’s place to judge with a Holy Judgment at the time He sees fit.  For God does not leave us to deal with our judases alone.  He strengthens us and endures our pain with us, no matter the situation.  He also provides us with an unending peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we give Him the darkness and stay to the Light.

Though many were angry when the man in my family passed, I was not angry, nor filled with condemnation for him.  Rather, I was then and most days still am filled with an incredible sadness that he chose as an example for his life the same darkness that Judas chose.  So many choices he made could have been different and would have brought him despite his sin to Christ.  Jesus, who watched over this man’s life as He watched over Judas’ life would have welcomed both of them Home to Him had they only realized their sin and asked forgiveness from the Great Forgiver.  If Jesus had been willing to forgive them, then who am I to hold on to my unforgiveness?

Praying that each of you find your path to forgiveness with the judases in your life.

May you find Gratitude and Peace in every moment,

Joan

AshWednesdayCross

 

To Be a Witness, If My People, Day 6

Standard

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

Today, in our If My People prayer pilgrimage Day 6, we are looking at those final words Jesus spoke to the disciples before he ascended into heaven to be with the Father.  Evangelization, plain and simple… We are to go everywhere, teach everything and baptize everyone.  It doesn’t get more forthright than that when looking at what Jesus asks of us.  If He knows that I am fully capable of going, teaching and baptizing, then why do I find this direction from my Savior so daunting and overwhelming.  Who am I to evangelize?  I’m comfortable in my faith and uncomfortable when forced to be anything other than a Catholic mom who walks the spiritual side in her life by attending Mass, practicing the Sacraments, raising her family in the faith, teaching Sunday School, going to Bible studies and writing in her blog.  I like the easy way.

“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living Mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”  Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard

 

Several years ago, this quote by Cardinal Suhard was printed on the back of our Parish bulletin.  I was so filled with joy when I read and thought about the meaning of this quote.  It seemed so natural, easy.  No street evangelization.  No asking strangers, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” No Bible Thumping. No propaganda.  Not even stirring

people up with insults and insinuations that they needed to get right with Mother Church.  Just simply living my life as a mystery… a prayer… in such a way that only God’s existence would complete my life and make my life story valid.  The most compelling way to share the message of the Gospel, the Good News of His coming, to bring wild hope to others, would be to live a conscious life for Him, to bring Him glory. Jesus came to redeem the assault of evil on our lives and to offer another way to live, filled with mercy, love, kindness for the least of our brethren rather than revenge, eye for an eye justice, and a harsh life of fulfilling man’s law in God’s name.  Somehow, this idea of evangelization seems more fulfilling, an easier way of following His path that makes sense to me when I see how He treated the least of His followers in the Gospel.  He did not judge nor condemn the sinner begging for healing.  How many times did He chose the more difficult aspect of healing His people’s faith through forgiveness?  “Your sins are forgiven.  Go in peace and sin no more.” A much more important healing for each of us than the easier physical healing that many of us have begged for over the course of humanity.  And yet, He lovingly and faithfully healed physical ailments as well. So it must be for each of us to find a way to live as a Mystery for Him through our willingness to show steadfast love, tender mercies, unabandoned hope, unasked for forgiveness.

Soren Kierkegaard: “All genuine instruction ends in a kind of silence, for when I live it, it is no longer necessary for my speaking to be audible.”

So we look at the propaganda that goes on in the name of evangelization and realize that many times it is not love, mercies, hope, nor forgiveness.  It comes down to the words.  Are you saying the right words with the correct tone of voice?  Are you saying the words loud enough and often enough and to everyone?  In the end, it truly is not about the words.  People will agree or disagree or be noncommittal with our words.  We must begin the hard work if our life is to relay the sense of God’s existence, to show our beliefs, values, convictions into our daily life; our worship, our work, the sustainability of our life, our interactions with others.  This is our witness.  As James said in 1:22, ‘Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.  Thereby deceiving only yourself.” To be doers and not hearers only we must do two things.  First, we must commit to a God Centered, not culture centered life.  We must seek out His Will and conform our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions to what we know He is leading us to.  Then we MUST respect the silence, the quietness with gentleness and kindness towards others.  We quietly go about showing steadfast love, tender mercies, unabandoned hope, and unasked for forgiveness to whomever crosses our path, #BlackLives, #BlueLives, #AllLives, #MuslimJewishProtestantHindiCatholicAgnostic………  We leave the judging and condemning to God, who loves us with a Holy Love and who judges with Holy Condemnation.  We become His living Mystery.

Praying that each of you may step out into Evangelization with steadfast love, tender mercies, unabandoned hope, and unasked for forgiveness to all whom cross your path.

May you find gratitude and peace in every moment,

Joan Marie

AshWednesdayCross

 

 

Prayer for Our Nation

Standard

Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call, I (the Lord) will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

13654321_10154310511062801_1014749521263386754_n

This last week our beautiful nation has been faced with horrific violence once again from those who are charged with protecting the masses as well as from one obviously mentally ill man who chose evil over love, violence over peace with the sniper killing of five innocent police officers and injuring eleven others at last count.  Suddenly, as if it were something new, of which I recall forty years ago listening to my parents argue with prejudiced family members, it is the same ole’, same ole…. separation, fear, anger, violence.  The illusion that we are a global community with social medias and technology creating a world filled with opposites talking and learning and accepting is just that…. an illusion.  The separation continues sadly.  We are left with #blacklivesmatter, #bluelivesmatter, #alllivesmatter, #loveaboveall of which untold numbers of posts and comments have ensued to debate which is politically correct to use in which groups of people and has resulted in further posturing of people on what they believe is accurate in the use of these hashtags and what is offensive.  The separation has continued as far as I can see.

It was with excitement that I came across a post on Facebook from a long ago high school friend asking all Christian friends to consider joining her in a forty day prayer visual for our nation using the book If My People: A Forty Day Guide For Our Nation, by Jack Countryman.  Without hesitation, I signed myself up and eagerly awaited the starting day… today.  The just of the forty days is that we each agree to keep our beautiful, diverse, wounded nation in prayer for the next forty days.  There is a Bible verse and brief prayer to be read as well as our personal reflections for each of the next forty days.  It is a storming of heaven with hearts heavy and tired of the violence, the hate, the fear, with many of us members of the “Tribe of the Sacred Heart-member of a Scar Clan” (Dr Clarissa Pinkola-Estes).  So for the next forty days, I will be posting my thoughts, meanderings, fears and dreams, my prayers for our nations, and my discerning of what God is asking of us to help heal this imperfect yet beautiful country of ours.

Being Catholic, I often “study” God’s Word in Scripture somewhat differently than others, including Protestants.  We, as Cathoics, practice a Bible study called Lectio Divina.   http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina   It is quite simple to read Scripture using Lectio Divina and opens us up to allowing God to guide us in what his message is regarding the passage that He wants us to be open to.  Begin with a prayer and ask God to protect you and to help you to understand the passage.  Let go of expectations and preconceived notions of what the passage is saying.  Be open and sensitive to God’s nudging, knowing that often Holy Spirit speaks to us in whispers and not in cymbals.  Read the passage.  Pause. Think. Pause.  Read the passage again.  Pause. Think. Pause.  What word or phrase grabs your attention?  What is it that you are being taught by the Holy Spirit?  What is God wanting you to focus on? Where do your thoughts go with this word or phrase?  This is Holy Spirit teaching you.  Yes, there is context for every Bible verse as to when-what-where-why it was written.  Yet, I believe fully that He uses these Words to speak to each of us still today.  Yes, we must be careful to understand Holy Spirit teaching over our own self interpretation.  If you feel uncomfortable with what draws your attention; forced to look at your own fears and ego desires; feeling stretched…. most likely Holy Spirit is trying to expand your narrow belief.  If what you are coming to understand is disturbing to you or totally contrary to any reality you know, please do not hesitate to speak with your priest, pastor, spiritual director, close religious friends. Remember, pray, pray, pray at all times when studying Scripture, asking Holy Spirit to help you understand what is being said to you and why; asking for protection that your understanding is from Him who loves you with a never ending love; asking for courage to allow yourself to see His ways and not your own.

I encourage you to consider joining me on this adventure.  It is sure to be an exciting ride, filled with Holy Spirit guidance and stretching each of us to learn a new way to accept, love, care for those in our midst.

May God Bless America with the healing of all!

AUSTRALIA-468

 

 

 

You, Jesus, Complete Me.

Standard

Philippians 1:6 “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6. God Completes What he Starts. Art Within the Ar

Artwork by Mark Lawrence, Copyright.  The Battlefield of the Mind Collection inspired by Joyce Meyers.

Giving my heart to him again and receiving his special words to my soul.  Music that made me dance and music that made me cry.  Witnessing that got to the heart of the matter of the struggle to follow His footsteps.  Quiet time to sort out my life and pray and find buttercups in full bloom in the grotto of the retreat center.  Reconciliation to give Him my sorrow over poor choices in the past and present and to find forgiveness.   This was my past weekend at our Parish Woman’s Retreat.

12771764_10153934629162801_7348857197195972319_o

Buttercups in the Grotto.

Sunday morning, as I entered the chapel, I realized that I had not yet signed the altar cloth and it was “last call” so to speak.  So up I headed, purple fine line marker in hand with final instructions that I could leave a message if I so desired with my name.  I stood pondering what message to leave on an altar cloth that will be brought back to the retreat year after year.  What words to write in this tiny little space that I found had not been written on yet….  It came to me fairly quickly.  The Bible promise that I have held on to since those early days of parenting and MOPS and not knowing what I was doing with my life and being filled with anxiety and struggles just to make ends meet while my husband finished medical school.  The promise that He would complete me, Philippians 1:6.  So I wrote on the altar cloth the simple sentence with a prayer that it would bless the other women present now and to come:

You, Jesus, complete me.  Joan Marie 2016

I headed back to my seat and waited for the big group celebration and then Mass to close out our retreat.  As they had all week-end, our group celebration began with a Bible verse.  Surprisingly it went like this:  “A Letter from St Paul to the Philippians.  ‘I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. ..And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception to discern what is of value so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.'” Simply put, it was my God promise that I had just prayed over my sisters in Christ not ten minutes earlier.

While I sat there contemplating the meaning of this “coincidence,” the group went on to sharing time.  Woman after woman bravely standing and speaking into a microphone sharing what the retreat had meant to them.  Woman after woman sharing their struggle, their lepers, their pain.  Sexual molestation, substance abuse, death…  I sat listening with my own struggles and heard that small, still voice saying to me “speak My promise to these woman.”  Alas, I am not so brave as to stand in front of just shy of 200 woman and be vulnerable.  I just could not bring myself to raise my hand, though I tried and tried to gather up the courage to say what I knew He wanted me to say.  For that I am sorrowful.

So I am here saying to each of you, now, in this place to take courage.  Do not see yourself as the leper whom others fear.  Do not look at yourself only through your pain and struggles feeling that you are the only one.  We all have pain and struggles.  We all have death and illness and abuses somewhere in our lives or the lives of loved ones whom we care for.  Suffering comes to all of us.  But He, the one who created us, bore our sins, and overcame the sting of death, looks down on us with steadfast love and tender mercies and He completes each of us.  He never leaves nor forsakes us.  He is in each of us helping us through whatever suffering this life brings by giving us whatever it is we lack to get through it.  I am small, weak, and cowardly.  Yet, with his merciful heart and outstretched arms, Jesus wraps Himself around me in those moments of suffering and weakness and completes me so that I am able to stand strong and brave and proclaim His love to all my suffering Sisters and Brothers in Christ.  He promises to do this for you as well.

heartafire_stfrancis_2016

Praying that each of you can find the confidence to know in your very being that He who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus, as well.

Amen, Joan Marie

“Little Ways” of Love: Holy Monday, 2015

Standard

Featured image

Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly….”

Do you have a Facebook account or other social media?  Did you ever friend a family member or acquaintance whom you might not have known well, but felt obligated to include them in your circle of social media?  Did they have a different fundamental belief in some area than you and played their God card only for you to be outraged at the error of their beliefs?  Did it get ugly with name calling, blocking, and other outrageousness?  Yeah, I dealt with this last week-end.  Sadly,  Indiana has recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  I wish the people of Indiana had listened to Pope Francis when he stated,  “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” — Interview aboard the Papal Plane after World Youth Day in Brazil.  Discrimination is wrong and not of God, simply put.  I cannot wrap my head around interpreting this bill any other way.  Trust me, I have heard it all from devout Christians in my social media circle as well as those in my immediate family who felt the need to defend this act on my Facebook wall.  I fear that until the Supreme Court takes an interest and rules on whether sexual orientation is a civil right, we will continue to struggle with this new discrimination based on the right of the individual to refuse to service another based on their own religious interpretation.  It is saddening.

Which brings me to our Bible passage which is being pondered by Catholics around our world this Holy Monday, as we continue to prepare our hearts for the most important of all holidays in our faith, Easter.  Originally, Isaiah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, shared these verses as he proclaimed what God had anointed him as a prophet with a job to do.  Jesus in Nazareth cited Isaiah 61:1-2 when he stood before His people and after reading the verses, He announced “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18).  Naturally, that did not go over very well with those who had come to the service as they were expecting a Messiah that would come in glory and strength, not a local carpenter who came from an unwed mother.  I am sure that news like that tended to stay around for awhile, small town mentality and all.  (How dare that Jesus think he is the Messiah.  I heard that Mary and Joseph weren’t married when he was begot. No way is he even capable of the job we need done in a Messiah.   Yada, yada.)They did not realize that in the most humblest of circumstances the greatest of God’s purposes are accomplished for His glory.  Thus His Son, the Messiah, was indeed begot by a young, unwed virgin and born in the lowliest of circumstances to the poorest of poor among the people.

So Jesus announces and confirms His mission statement in Nazareth, repeating the words of Isaiah that He has come and with the Spirit of the Lord’s anointing He has been sent to cheer, heal, proclaim, release and announce.  If this is His mission, we as His believers, must find this to be our mission as well.  We are sent to do all these things as we are now His hands, His feet, His heart here on Earth.

So I ask, how is it that we are to cheer the lowly?  Who are the lowly?  The poor in spirit?  Do I trust Him enough to let go of whatever my agenda is to be anointed by Him to perform this cheering which He has called me to?  I am reminded of Mother Theresa of Calcutta stating “God did not put me down here to be successful.  He put me down here to be faithful.”  So it is with each of us.  We must walk in faith and give up our successes and agendas and perceptions on who is deserving of our respect and we must serve others.  Even if this means in Indiana looking past whatever behavior you do not respect, and simply loving and serving the person in front of you, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

How do we serve the lowly, whether in actuality or perceived lowliness?  St Therese of Lisieux, a Catholic saint who lived in the mid 1800’s, is known for her Little Ways.  She taught through example that the way for each of us who wants to serve God, need look no further than littleness, simplicity and love.  It is not necessary that we all perform great sacrifices or mighty works to accomplish bringing good tidings to the lowly.  If we live our life doing for others in love and obedience to His calling, we are showing love in the “Little Ways.”  Matthew 18:3 tells us that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  We must become child-like in our love, devotion, and care of our fellow man.  We must eat with the sinners and prostitutes and tax collectors and homosexuals, without hesitation.  Daily we must attend to them in the little things.  For it is in the little, day to day interactions that we show God’s great love for His glory to our brothers and sisters.  Those whom the world has time and time again tried to infer that they are less than.  The friends of Jesus.  As He did even though it led to His Walk of Sorrow on Good Friday.  For that we give Him our thanks, our love, our life.  Because had He refused to serve those whom He felt were lower than He, none of us would ever have risen with Him on Easter morning, anointed and forgiven and much loved by a Father who had spent an eternity to love us.

Flee to the Lord

Standard

Featured image

Mark 14:50-52, “And they all left him and fled.  Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.  They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.”

It is Holy Thursday in this reading of Mark.  Jesus has just celebrated the Last Supper in which he proclaims to his most beloved Apostles that his body and blood will be given up for each of them as well as each of us who follows him.  Judas, the misinformed zealot Apostle has made his choice and gone to the authorities to hand Jesus over.  Jesus goes to Gethsemane to pray for his Father’s will to be done.  While there, he is handed over to the authorities with a kiss from Judas.  There is a scuffle and a miracle and suddenly the Apostles flee, distancing themselves from their Master, the one who has come to set all of us free through His captivity.  Now this is the part that gets interesting in Mark, where each of us can identify in some way.  Just three short sentences with an unknown character.  A young man follows the posse with Jesus in their midst wearing only his linen cloth, think underwear or loose robe.  Most likely his disrobed body draws attention and the young soldiers grab his cloth trying to seize him.  He flees as well in his nakedness and shame for all to see.

Who is this young man?  Some say Lazarus, who is wearing his burial linen cloth.  Others think Mark is making a brief appearance to show that he was actually present at the time.  Still others claim everything from the owner of the garden to the man who appears again at the end of Mark announcing our Lord’s resurrection.  Will we ever know the true identity of this man?  Is it important that we know who he really was?  Perhaps what is of more importance is to look at why the Holy Spirit felt it important to inspire Mark to include this unknown man in his account of the Passion of Jesus, note that only Mark includes this part of the Passion Story.

This young man causes us to think about frightening or difficult times, when we are asked to faithfully follow Jesus rather than running to those things which bring us comfort.  We have all had these experiences, though different for each of us.  The single mother who must find a way to put food on the table for her children and pay the rent with not enough money for both.  The teacher who struggles to keep the brightest children in her class challenged while encouraging the children with learning disabilities to try and keep up.  The son who must find time to deal with his angry elderly mom while meeting the responsibilities of being a husband and father to his family.  The teen who yearns to be popular but realizes how unsafe it is to follow the crowd into sexual experimentation and substance abuse to gain that popularity.  The missionary in the Middle East who lives with the threat of terrorism daily but knows that God is leading their life to bring His Word to this troubled part of the world.

We all struggle…..  And yet, we are each faced with a choice.  Do we leave Jesus and flee when the going gets tough?  “Thanks, Lord, but no thanks.  I’ve got it from here on my own.  I can take care of this problem better than you.  It’s getting scary and tough to be associated with the likes of you, Lord.  Sorry, but heading out to keep myself safe on my own.”  Perhaps, we head towards Jesus in the midst of our fear and trembling, almost naked, for all to see.  “Lord, it is getting scary here.  Time for a miracle.  I am needing a little help here.  You going to do something to make it better.  No worries though Lord, I’ll take care of this little area over here on my own.”  Yet, when they see we are looking to Him for our answer, we back away and run with our sin naked for the world to see, abandoning Jesus just like his Apostles and the young man in his skivvies did the night of Holy Thursday.

Me, I prefer to keep my  eyes on Jesus, clothed or otherwise.  “Lord, I am frightened here.  I don’t want to grumble.  I don’t want to die.  I have things that I want to do and see and be for You and Your glory.  Even when times get tough, overwhelming, alarming, I hold to Your promise that in the midst of all this mess, You ‘will never leave me nor abandon me’ (Hebrews 13:5).  You, Lord are my refuge so that no one may say ‘flee like a bird’ (Psalm 11:1).  I am strong and courageous as You have promised to always go with me  (Deuteronomy 31:6).  I need not turn and flee when frightening times come to me knowing that you are ever present (1 Chronicles 28:20).

So I take heart that when the others fled Jesus in his moment of great strength, which appeared to human eyes as weakness, there was this lone young man who ventured towards Him.   In his nakedness, he followed Jesus for as long as He dared.  And though he turned and fled when the world seized Him, I am sure that Jesus looked upon Him with great compassion as He does to each of us in those moments.  Knowing each of our hearts, with open arms, He claims over us His steadfast love and tender mercies through the most terrifying of times.  With this we know that unlike this lone young man, we have nothing to flee in fear from.   And so we run into his outstretched arms for the strength and courage we need to endure those most difficult times to bring glory to Him, our Master and Savior.

Via Dolorosa, Way of Sorrows

Standard

Stations of the Cross

i.  Jesus is condemned to death.

 

condemned

sinless Lamb of God

innocently guilty

unafraid, blameless, yet condemned

sinless Lamb of God

you take away the sin of mankind.

majestic reign

humbled as Perfect Sacrifice

sinless Lamb of God

Savior


 ii.  Jesus carries his cross.

 

cross

i am forgiven

sin, separation

my burden is heavy

i am forgiven

daily, Jesus carries my cross with his

grace given

faulty footsteps following Him

i am forgiven

salvation

 

iii.  Jesus falls for a first time.

 

fall

your majesty protects

weakened, vulnerable

most powerful Jesus falling

your majesty protects

God’s weakness is stronger than man’s strength

Angel strengthened

sinless burdened with sin

your majesty protects

Arise

 

iv.  Jesus meets his mother.

 

Mary

full of Grace

humble, willing

Ark of the Covenant

full of grace

knowing Jesus would be about God’s work

prayerful submission

in this suffering moment

full of grace

obedient

 

v.    Simon helps Jesus carry His cross.

 

simon

carrying His burden

human weakness

your cross bearing shoulders

carrying His burden

offering your strength to the Son of Man

comforting the Great Comforter

carrying His burden

servant

 

vi.  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

 

veronica

gentlewoman’s loving kindness

tender mercy

wiping His sacred blood

gentlewoman’s loving kindness

mark of Jesus’ love imprinted on her

veiled image

offering all she had

gentlewoman’s loving kindness

compassion

 

vii.  Jesus falls a second time.

 

downtrodden

we all fall

oppressed, persecuted

the Lord lifts up

we all fall

come you weary and burdened to Him

Jesus fell

the burden so great

we all fall

arise

 

viii. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

 

weeping

tender mercy of God

Jesus’ suffering

let us weep too

tender mercy of God

along the road He saw ALL women

reaching out

compassion, healing for them

tender mercy of God

comforting

 

ix.  Jesus falls a third time

 

weakened

falls…falls…falls

Jesus carries

every sinner’s tragic fall

falls…falls…falls

twisting, winding sorrowful way to God’s glory

Spotless Victim

undelivered from wicked hands

falls…falls…falls

arise

 

x.  Jesus is stripped of his garments.

 

naked

nothing separates us

vulnerable, indignant

God is with us

nothing separates us

Love of God is with us ALWAYS

embarrassment, shame

God is with us

nothing separates us

Love

 

xi.  Jesus is nailed to the cross

cross

Christ lifted high

Fragrant Offering

Divine Love for us

Chris lifted high

my redemption is found in the cross

Perfect Sacrifice

all people drawn to Jesus

Christ lifted high

crucifixion

 

xii.  Jesus dies on the cross.

 

death

arms spread wide

humble submission

as He embraced all

arms spread wide

may His sacrifice bring gratitude and peace

every moment

into this sinner’s heart

arms spread wide

rebirth

 

xiii.  Jesus is taken down from the cross.

 

dismounted

holiest of sorrow

unbearable task

burial of our Lord

holiest of sorrow

joseph, nicodemus, love won out over fear

profound grief

Mary held her son

holiest of sorrow

Pieta

 

xiv.  Jesus is placed in the tomb.

 

burial

laid to rest

joseph’s tomb

Jesus wrapped in linen

laid to rest

we grieve his death.  God promises life.

stone closed

yet opened and empty

laid to rest

Resurrection

 

xv.  The resurrection of Jesus

 

Resurrection

go to Galilee

empty tomb

intense desire to encounter Jesus

go to Galilee

now let us be on our way

Risen Lord

Holy Light overcame darkness

go to Galilee

proclamation