THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS THROUGH THE EYES OF ST JOSEPH

We conclude our meditation this week on the stations of the cross as seen through the eyes of St Joseph in this special year in his honour. The pictures are taken from the stations in Lourdes


THE ELEVENTH STATION: JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS

We adore you O Christ and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


‘It was the third hour when they crucified him and the inscription of the charge against him read ‘The King of the Jews’ and with him they crucified two robbers one on his right and the other on his left’ (Mark 15:25-27).


Jesus is nailed to the cross. The Son of God is nailed to a tree and human cruelty stoops to a new low. In this station, we place at the center of our prayer, all those who suffer from physical torment because of their illness. We think of those for whom pain is a daily companion, even at night. Jesus also felt physical pain as someone tortured and killed. And because he did, there is no path of human suffering that we can walk without finding his footprints already there. We recall too how Jesus forgave those who had condemned him and hurt him: ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’. From his place of pain flowed grace and mercy. Tonight, we pray for those who are physically hurting – that their suffering might not make them bitter but be offered up with Jesus for forgiveness and for the healing of the world.


Father of mercies, look with compassion on the sick and infirm who are in pain. You have given them a share in your Son’s passion whose body was bruised and pierced. Pout out your Holy Spirit on all who are in chronic pain, those recovering from surgery and those undergoing treatment. May their wounds touch those of Christ and lead to new faith in the power of life over death and joy over sadness. Amen.


THE TWELFTH STATION: JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS

We adore you O Christ and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


‘When does sixth hour had come there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour and at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice ‘Eli Eli Lama Sabachtani which means, my God my God why have you forsaken me?’ And someone ran and filling a sponge full of vinegar put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink and Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last’ (Mark 15:33-39).


Jesus dies on the cross. For this he came – to destroy the power of death and to restore the gift of life – the gift the Father wants us to enjoy. Jesus breaks the power of death by allowing himself to die and then by rising again. And because he died and rose again, all who have died have the hope that they will share in eternal life. Little did I know or appreciate that mystery until I died myself. Little did I know that the child that I had helped rear and cared for would be the one to give me eternal life. How wonderful is this mystery and how grateful am I to God! In this station, I think and pray for all who have passed through the door of death. I think of all who have made their own the words of Jesus: ‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit’. I pray for all those in most need of God’s mercy – that they might turn back to God and ask for his forgiveness and peace.


God our Father, hear our prayers tonight for those who are dying and those who have died. We hold before your merciful love all who are terminally ill; may they know your presence and friendship as they pass through the gateway to your kingdom. We commend to you their families who grieve for them and miss them every day. May they be welcomed into the company of Mary, St Joseph and the communion of saints who rejoice in the gift of eternal life, won by the death of your Son. Amen.


THE THIRTEETH STATION: JESUS IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS

We adore you O Christ and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


‘Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary of Magdala. The soldiers came to Jesus and when they had saw that that he was already dead, they did not break his legs but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and once there came out blood and water’ (John 19:25.32-34).


Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of his beloved mother and my beloved wife. It is beyond human comprehension that a person should say ‘yes’ to everything, even to the most harrowing pain. Yet this is what Mary did, and it is why I loved her. In her unconditional ‘yes’, my wife becomes capable of receiving on her lap the dead body of the Redeemer. This scene, wrapped in silence, reveals that Christ’s passion was not suffered in vain; Mary in this moment of weariness and an infinite sorrow represents humanity who accepts with gratitude heaven’s blessings. In this station, I think of and pray for those who have buried loved ones after a long illness and all who have watched their loved ones die. May they enjoy the maternal closeness of Mary who experienced the death of her son. Blessed be God who heals the broken hearted.

Loving Father, hear our prayers for those bereaved after the death of a loved one. As people of Easter hope, help us to think, not only of our loss but of their gain, their peace and freedom from sickness. Give us the gift of faith to give our ‘Yes’ each day with Mary, despite the consequences of what it might mean. Send us your Holy Spirit so that we might be witnesses to hope and to the resurrection of your Son. Amen.


THE FOURTEENTH STATION: JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB

‘We adore you O Christ and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world’.


‘When Pilate learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead he granted the body to Joseph. He bought a linen shroud and taking him down wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock (Mark 15:45-47).


Now that Jesus is dead, he is no longer a threat or a danger, or so it seemed. And so, people came forward to bury his body. Burying the dead is a sacred thing. It is one of the corporal works of mercy. The large stone over Jesus’ tomb symbolizes permanence – something that can only be removed with great effort, something that seems to never end. And yet with the resurrection, this stone was cast aside and a new future had begun. At this station, I think and pray for the sick and dying who see no hope. I pray for those whose life seems to be blocked by a large cold stone that is an obstacle to improvement and healing. Tonight, I invite you to join with me in praying for those who visit the graves of loved ones and who keep their memory alive in their hearts. May their prayers and visits be signs of that faith that believes that love never dies and that all things are possible by the power of him who loved us.


Heavenly Father, hear our prayer. Through the intercession of St Joseph, give us the grace not to be afraid of death but to rejoice in the gift of life that Jesus has won for us. Bless all who care for the dead and bury them with dignity. Bless and encourage those who upkeep our cemeteries. May we be people who look forward to the resurrection of the body and life ever-lasting. Amen.


THE FITEEN STATION: JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD

‘Peace be with you…and he showed them his wounds’



Jesus is risen! He has come through his passion and death and is now raised by the Father’s power and love. Here is the good news, the great victory over sin, sickness, human mortality and death. If the shadow of the cross falls on our lives, it is only because the light of the resurrection shines on the other side of it. Now that I dwell in heavenly glory, only now do all the moments of suffering in my life make sense. Only in the light of the resurrection does illness make sense. Only in the light of the resurrection can we know that sickness is temporary while joy is ever-lasting. We have shared in his suffering and death but will also share in his resurrection and joy. I pray that all the sick and their families never lose sight of the final destiny of peace and love that Jesus promised to us.


Father of life, hear our prayers as people of Easter faith. We have shared in his cross. May we share now in his glory. At those times when suffering is hard and the road is long, grant us a ‘Transfiguration’ experience when we glimpse the joy that awaits those who don’t lose faith in Jesus’ promises. May we make our own the words of the Good Thief who asked Jesus to ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom’. And may he respond with the promise of paradise. Amen.