Thursday, April 13, 2006

Via Crucis Grid Blog: Stations IX & X

The Via Crucis Grid Blog continues.

Station IX: Jesus Falls the Third Time

For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. -- Proverbs 4: 16-17
I was in Jerusalem on September 28, 2000 when Ariel Sharon went into to the al-Aqsa Mosque, provoking what came to be known as the second intifada. There was a riot and the army occupied the area around the mosque and the Western Wall. Seven Palestinians were killed by the IDF. The next day the city was tense and quiet. Soldiers were everywhere, and everyone's nerves were shot. There was no noise except for the call to prayer broadcast from loudspeakers on the minarets that looked over the city.

It was Friday and normally on that day the Franciscans would do the Via Crucis through the Old City, retracing what were traditionally thought to have been the steps of Jesus on his way to Calvary. Because of the situation that day, however, they did not venture out onto the streets, but rather carried out the whole procession inside the Holy Sepulchre, instead of just the end of it.

It was a strange and sad evening inside that strange and sad church. Huge and labyrinthine, home to so many denominations -- Greeks, Catholics, Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians -- that night it was crowded as the Franciscans and Armenians both processed in different parts of the building, forced to share the space because of the chaos outside. The clear Gregorian hymns of the Franciscans mixed with the haunting Eastern chants of the Armenians. Outside, the people I had gotten to know over the past week were getting ready for the killing that would be practiced by both sides.

Some two thousand years before, in that same city, someone had stumbled a third and last time, near the place of the skull, and then got up and made it to the hill where the killing of the innocents and criminals was set to begin.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero

Daily Via Crucis bloggers: Renee, Mike, Argent, Best & Worst, Shawn, Joseph, Kat, Rick, Stephanie, Karen
Station IX Bloggers: Ron, Jonathon, PmPilgrim

Station X: Jesus is Stripped of his Garments

So wasted are my hands and feet that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:17-19

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall. But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink. After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. -- Matthew 27:27-31; 33-36

Jesus is stripped of his garments twice. The first time it is so the guards can mock him, dressing him in a red cloak, a crown of thorns, and a reed for a scepter, a grim and sadistic carnival game of a beggar king. This is, in effect, a brutal misreading of what Christ is. Accused of calling himself "The King of Jews", he suffers a cruel and theatrical false coronation in which he is spat upon and beat physically with the same reed that is used as a symbol of mockery -- his "scepter" or rod of authority. The irony is that in mocking him, the magnify him. His glory is unearthly and reflects the unimaginable feat of the incarnation, in which his love for humanity increases with his suffering. The man who is being falsely honored is greater than any king the guards could imagine. He is not "The King of the Jews" -- if anything he is "The King of Glory" in Psalm 24, the meek lamb that has been sacrificed and is then worshiped by a heavenly court in Revelations 5. The great paradox of Jesus is that at the same moment he is most glorified, he is most human.

The second time he is stripped, it is so that he can be hung naked on the cross, and those who crucified him could play lots for his clothes "in fulfillment of the scriptures." He is nothing then but a bleeding, naked, broken man hanging on a cross like a common criminal. The King of Heaven.

Iuxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere

Daily Via Crucis bloggers: Renee, Mike, Argent, Best & Worst, Shawn, Joseph, Kat, Rick, Stephanie, Karen
Station X Bloggers: Ron, Jonathon, Mark, Church Geek


crystal said...

Thanks for these posts - they're not easy to read and I'm sure not easy to write, but they're appreciated.

Paula said...

Liam, I posted also a painting by El Greco (Last Supper)...and i was considering to post the one that you posted...
Crystal´s comment speaks for me also.
Thank you.

Liam said...

Thank you both. Doing this has been a rewarding but yes, difficult journey.