by Mary Raether
Genesis 22:1-14 Psalms 22, 40, 54, 95 1 Peter 1:10-20 John 13:36-38, 19:38-42
When I reflect on the Holy Land trip, I realize my reaction to events that took place two thousand years ago became quite personal. As we walked the twelve sites the Church recognizes as the “Stations of the Cross,” most of us carried a large wooden cross for a segment, the history of each stop was explained, and liturgies and prayers were recited.
At Station VI, a woman wiped Jesus’ face. He was bloody, dirty, full of sweat, and someone he had never met darted past the guards and wiped his face. This may not sound like an act of bravery, and the incident may not have happened, but think of the message. The trial, the lashing, the walk, the crucifixion, and the site where crosses were jammed into cracks on the rim of a former stone quarry high above the city were tactics used by the Romans to terrorize the community.
Our leader pointed out that not one of us, including him, would have been among the followers that day. I’ve always known that I would never have been a participant in that walk. But if a dedicated and articulate Episcopal Priest, former Dean of St. George’s College, and respected archeologist wouldn’t have been there either, how could I feel guilty? And, Jesus’ later words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), were meant for me too and not just for the representatives of Rome and their collaborators.