April 3, 2012
We are the eighth station of the cross right outside our doorstep, in our callejón, in our alley. The entire street is now one long alfombra of fresh pine needless neatly arranged over sawdust and sand with red flowers and pineapples to welcome Christ as he enters our rarely clean alley. Today you could eat the pineapple off the broken sidewalk. And lest we forget that today is the day Christ carries his burden into our humble narrow cobblestone alleyway where more gossip, envy and quiet stares abound, an altar has been placed in front of the parking lot entrance. This ensures we can’t flee, at least not quickly.
By now the number of people following the processions has increased and one procession flows into another into a long day punctuated by horns blasting and drums thumping down the streets. Black-veiled women and men carrying plastic spears dressed in Roman outfits create a human bubble for the large float bearing Christ and usually his mother Mary and some fallen angel at the end burning in red cardboard flames. Starting Thursday at 3 AM the Romans come to town fully clad and on white steeds. Thus begins the Passion and Death of Christ in a 15-20 hour day where the biggest float of them all carrying Christ out of La Merced Church in La Antigua, re-enacts the fourteen stations – each station standing for an event which occurred during Jesus’ Passion and Death at Calvary on Good Friday. Each stations of The Cross is a point of reflection, meditation and prayer for us sinnermen and women.
So what exactly happens at the eighth station?
The women kept coming and Jesus could hear them sobbing, crying and even wailing for him.
He was familiar with these scenes. They were common when disaster struck or a beloved one died. He had heard the wailing during the years he spent in Nazareth. He heard it again when he went to the house of Jairus in Cafarnaum (Mk 5,38-40) or to Bethany when Lazarus died.
The shrill pitch of the wailing made him stop. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children” (Lk 23,27).
They were stunned by his words. They could not reply. They did not understand what he was saying.
And he continued “For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23,29-31). They were taken aback.
But Jesus, even in this terrible moment, is not thinking only of himself, of his suffering, of his drama. He is concerned with the drama of humanity, of all human beings. He propheticaly saw another human drama opening in front of his eyes. And these wailing women had to change their lives.
How many times had he repeated this while preaching in the land of Galilee or Judea? How many times he shouted over wind and tempest, over desert and plains: “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1,15).
He was again telling them, and through them those who were following him with a smile on their face: “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit” (Mt 21,43) because “the sound of wailing is heard from Zion: ‘How ruined we are! How great is our shame! We must leave our land because our houses are in ruins”(Jer 9,19).
It is the station that reminds us to think of others first, to feel compassion and live from the heart. As I watch the bigger than life figure of Christ on the shoulders of more than fifty people coming towards me like a missle, I can only think of a head-on collision with the godhead. I think of a not so angry Lord, but definitely an annoyed Lord. Is the Dao of all things this station, this interconnectedness of all things, this walking in the other thing’ shoes even if those shoes are carrying a 30-foot christ on them? As a recovering Catholic I drawback at the prospect of this truth being lorded over me. Isn’t interconnectedness exactly this: a perfect sudden present moment in its totality? Even the clean-up crew with their mini-bulldozer at the end of the procession is part of this perfection.