VII. Jesus Bears the Cross
When the chief priests and the guards saw Jesus, they cried out, 'Crucify him, crucify him!' Pilate said to them, 'Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.' ... They cried out, 'Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!' Pilate said to them, 'Shall I crucify your king?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar.' Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha."
(This post is part of a Lenten series on praying the Stations of the Cross - a devotional practice that is said to have started with Mary after the death and resurrection of Jesus. To start at the beginning, see the overview provided on March 5, 2023, and then go from there!)
There is deep fatigue at this point in Jesus’ journey to the cross. Jesus is so alone – exhausted, in excruciating pain, completely abandoned, and appearing as a failure in the eyes of the crowds who taunt him. Being asked to carry his own instrument of torture feels like way too much after everything he has already been through.
Why (and how) did he keep going? Apparently, his mission to redeem the world (us) was so deep in his bones and spirit that he was sustained through any temptation to crumble physically and mentally at this midway point in his grueling ordeal. He was still plugged into the Father, sustained by the prayers offered through his years of ministry and through the previous night (at the Last Supper and in the Garden of Gethsemane). “I and my Father are one,” he had said.
We have access to this same fount of strength as we endure life’s sufferings, invited to remain in Christ (who is in the Father) as he remains in us. “Remain in me as I remain in the Father.” God gives us what we need to hold on through our darkest hours, even when the fatigue is deep. And resurrection is on the way.
The human powers-that-be are again showing their ugly side here at Station VII, carrying out violence on those they are meant to protect. Where do today’s powers-that-be (in both the church and in secular institutions) continue to impose burdens too heavy to bear on those already suffering? When are we blinded to truth and to God because of our power and aggression?
A note about mindfulness
Mindfulness practices help us become aware of our full experience – both the fatigue and also the hidden strengths that we might have forgotten we had. We can use mindfulness meditations to dive beneath the surface of our difficult thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, experiencing the deeper waters of sustenance from God. We don’t have to enjoy the pain, but knowing there’s more to the present moment (with resurrection on the way) makes all the difference.
(For a list of mindfulness practices that open you up to your full present-moment experience as you pray the Stations of the Cross, check out the Guides for Practice available here.)
Image Credit: Cathedral of St. Andrew
Artist: Suzanne Young
3/22/2023 11:11:20 pm
I am really enjoying these blog posts! Thank you!
3/23/2023 08:25:28 am
Thanks for letting me know, Rowan - we're halfway through the stations & Easter is on the way :).
4/4/2023 02:16:33 am
I found this post really spoke to me. I’m exhausted by the burdens that come with being part of the church and had a cancer diagnosis yesterday, but I am finding the strength I need, thanks in no small measure to your mindfulness practices.
4/4/2023 10:25:02 pm
What heavy burdens to bear, Sheila. You've been on my mind and in my prayers today since I read your message. God will give you what you need as you remain rooted in him <3. Thank you for sharing a glimmer of your experience here!
4/7/2023 09:35:13 pm
Nothing like the burden Christ bore for me! Going through tough times in Holy Week has helped put things in perspective. I keep returning to your posts for new insights. I tested positive for Covid yesterday on my return from our Good Friday last hour at the cross, so my cancer surgery will be postponed for some weeks. Thank you so much for your prayers.
4/8/2023 04:13:12 pm
Holy Week does indeed put things in perspective :). I was reminded today in a hard situation that "it's in God's hands now," and I found that to be a grounding thought in light of Jesus himself handing things over to the will of his Father with trust that good would come of the struggle. Praying that your COVID clears quickly in preparation for your upcoming surgery, Sheila!
Leave a Reply.
I am Irene Kraegel. I am licensed as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
Visit my contact page to sign up for email notifications when new posts are released.