STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Sixth Station — Veronica Wipes The Face Of Jesus, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Bernardin stations of the cross

From The Journey to Peace

Come.  You have my father’s blessing!
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me.
I was ill and you comforted me,
In prison and you came to visit me.
(Matthew 25:34-36)

God’s Love Moves Us into Courageous and Creative Service

My friends, the greatest romance we will ever experience is God’s passionate love.  The greatest adventure is the journey into his kingdom.  The greatest achievement is to live as a faith-filled brother or sister of Jesus, the savior.  The greatest challenge is to carry on Jesus’s mission and ministry, incarnating his healing presence and saving love in the world.  Through our love for one another, others will experience Immanuel – the fact that God is, indeed, with us.

This means that you and I will have to become the hands and arms of God’s love in our world by reaching out to the suffering and marginal people of this metropolitan area, of our nation, of the world.  We have to be willing to let the indwelling of God’s love move us into courageous and creative service and ministry.  The word of God challenges us to move beyond fear to hope, beyond paralysis to constructive action, beyond dissension and turmoil to an abiding peace.

Lord God, I am simply in awe of your passionate
love for us.  It is a mystery that I cannot comprehend
and can accept only in faith.  Help me to share your
love with others, especially those who are needy,
those who are most vulnerable, those who are your
beloved children and my sisters and brothers.

We Build God’s Kingdom through Our Daily Actions

We build God’s kingdom as we strive to put the gospel message into practice in our everyday lives.  Through our lives we proclaim the message: God loved us so much that he sent his only son as our redeemer.  Our words may be few, but our deeds ought to proclaim boldly that a close family life is important, that education in our faith is important, that every human being has great dignity in God’s eyes, that even the weakest and most helpless among us have rights that need to be respected.  We build God’s kingdom when we reach out in loving care toward one another, especially toward the sick, the poor, the homeless, the starving.  In this way we carry on Jesus’s mission, telling the Good News in words and deeds.

We need not become discouraged when the progress of God’s kingdom among us is not always obvious.  God’s kingdom grows in secret, like a crop of wheat in the night, like children over the years, like the dawn that slowly overcomes the darkness.  God’s kingdom is like buried treasure whose value increases with time.  The good we do for one another often goes unseen.  This should not upset us.  Our heavenly father sees.  It is him we serve.  We are not building our own kingdom.  He builds his kingdom through us.

God, most holy, I am curious to know more about
Veronica than what is found in the simplicity of
this sixth station.  But it is enough that her example
inspires us to do our part each day in building
up your kingdom.  Please give me the ability to recognize
people’s needs and help them in whatever ways I can.

We Meet Jesus in Our Intimate Connection with Others

I need to go out, to experience firsthand the goodness and warmth of our people.  Only then can I maintain a correct perspective.  But such encounters, I hasten to add, can take a great deal out of you.  They can be very draining, both physically and emotionally.  But they are worth it, because in those moments – moments of celebration and fellowship – you experience a connectedness that transcends the normal routine of daily life and ministry.

Moreover, the intimate moment that you spend with each person can bring healing and reconciliation into their lives.  They experience anew – or for the first time – their authentic self-worth.  They may come closer to their parish community and change their attitude about the church’s pastors.  They may also enter into a more intimate communion with the Lord himself.

To be with people – simply to be with them in their celebrations and in the course of their daily lives – is no simple task.  It may seem a waste of precious time.  But we must be willing to expend our time and energy on such occasions.  If we constantly look for immediate results and carefully dole out the concern and care we share with the people we encounter, we will not meet Jesus in them.  Further, we will not be able to enjoy and benefit from what they have to offer in the exchange, and we will not be able to minister to them in an effective and loving way.

The Christian religion is incarnational.  Jesus used and enjoyed the normal, simple things of life.  He frequently ate and celebrated with his friends – and not only with his close friends but with many of the wider group of people with whom he came into contact.  He also chose simple, understandable signs and elements as the basis for the sacramental system.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of
your son, Jesus, who was like us in all things but
sin.  Help me to discover you and the risen Christ in
my encounters with others.  Let me also be an instrument
of your love so that others can experience your
presence through my actions.

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