In the passage from the first Epistle of Peter known as the Canticle of Peter (1 Peter 2: 21-24) Peter describes Jesus’ acceptance of His passion. He explains:
“Christ suffered for you, and left you an example to have you follow in His footsteps. He did no wrong; no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted He returned no insult. When He was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats. Instead He delivered Himself up to the One who judges justly. In His own body He brought your sins to the cross, so that all of us, dead to sin, could live in accord with God’s will. By His wounds you were healed.”
In this morning’s first reading we have Isaiah tell us, “He [the suffering servant] does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets.”
We can picture Jesus carrying the Cross, carrying the weight of our sins through the streets of Jerusalem to His place of execution.
After receiving a savage beating and scourging at the hands of the Roman soldiers, He said nothing; after having the weight of the Cross thrust upon His raw and bleeding shoulders – He said nothing; as He stumbled and zigzagged through the streets of Jerusalem, being hounded every step of the way by sadistic soldiers and a callous mob, He said — nothing.
What does His silence say to us?
Possibly, if we unite ourselves to His sufferings, we can see that our own life consists of spiritual, physical, and emotional beatings, scourgings, sufferings, and crosses that are thrust upon us.
Like Jesus, we may feel that we are being ground into the street by the suffering we are experiencing – but like Him – we must rise up – to carry our personal cross as best we can.
As Catholic Christians – actually, all Christians regardless of denomination – have as our calling the duty to carry our trials and troubles in the same way that Jesus did. Like Him, we will zigzag through the streets, we too, will stumble and fall; but Holy Week reminds us that we must always see Jesus’ composure, humility and strength in the face of unbelievable pain and extraordinary adversity as a model that we must strive to emulate.
Jesus was not a masochist; nor are we. But we understand that the mystery of suffering contains within it the seed of our redemption – the seed of our spiritual rebirth – for a seed must fall to the ground and have its outer shell stressed, broken, and yes, pulverized, so that its center may take root and give birth to new life.
This week we must make a silent prayer, to join our trials and sufferings, those of our loved ones, and those of our nation – to His, and to implore the Father to help us raise up our nation, family, and ourselves as best we can, so that we may, as Saint Peter tells us, “follow in His footsteps” and silently and without complaint, carry our own cross – as well as the crosses of others.
Special thanks to Fernando Mario Paonessa a contemporary artist for providing the images of Jesus suffering the Way of the Cross. Fernando created these stunning sculptures (reliefs); more images may be found on his website: http://fernandomariopaonessa.eu/pages/via_crucis.htm
Copyright © 2012 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All Rights Reserved