STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eighth Station — Jesus Meets The Women Of Jerusalem, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Bernardin stations of the cross

From The Journey to Peace

A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him. Jesus turned to them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me.  Weep for yourselves and for your children.  The days are coming when they will say, ‘Happy are the sterile, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’  Then they will begin saying to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  If they do these things in the green wood, what will happen in the dry?”

We, Too, Struggle With the Forces of Evil

We humans are deeply alienated from ourselves and from God, who is the source of all life, when we do not reverence, protect, and promote human life.  Abortion; euthanasia; neglect of the poor, the handicapped, and the weak – all these reveal how divided we are from ourselves and others.

We are deeply alienated from ourselves and others when we perpetuate attitudes and structures that divide people on the basis of racial and cultural differences.  Racism – in whatever form – keeps us away from each other, keeps us strangers to each other and even strangers to our very selves.  When I step back from these particular situations that I have so briefly indicated, I see a pattern emerging.  Again, please believe me: I do not credit myself with special cleverness.  No.  Rather, I see God’s hand at work, inspiring and sustaining my best efforts, as indeed he does yours.  I see six steps.

The first involves coming to know the fact and roots of human alienation, whatever the form.  This is not necessarily pleasant or easy, but it is absolutely necessary.  In general, it means that I must learn to listen deeply so as to grasp fully the realities involved.

second step is to renew my commitment to serve healing reconciliation, to be a willing instrument for it, whatever this demands.  I must confess that I often become discouraged.  I can continue to serve only by continually renewing my commitment to work for reconciliation.

third step is to identify and engage resources to help me.  I must humbly – that is to say, honestly – recognize that I do not have the wherewithal to address all the issues I confront.  I depend on others; I depend on institutions; I depend on so much.

fourth step is to risk taking initiatives.  In other words, I must do something.

fifth step is to trust God.  I must surrender; I must entrust myself to God totally.  In this I recognize that the work of reconciliation is not mine but God’s, that I serve reconciliation in a real but instrumental way.

The final step is to hold fast.  It is not enough to make attempts, to take risks, to start something and then walk away.  Our fidelity must follow the pattern set by the Lord.  He will not let us stay alienated.  He continues to knock, to invite, and to call us to a healed life at home with him and with one another.

Consider your own ministry and life.  Become familiar with the patterns unique to you.  Probe the ways that God has worked in and through you.

Creator God, who made order out of chaos, help me
to recognize the forces of evil and chaos that threaten
to overwhelm me at times.  Send your Holy Spirit to

guide me so that I can learn the truth about myself,
about others, about the world.  Let me hear well
Jesus’s advice to the women of Jerusalem and help
me hold fast to your path, even in shaky times.

We Stand With One Another As Children of God

Jesus challenges us in the Gospels: “Get hold of yourselves!  Do not be afraid!” (Mark 6:50)  Our strength and courage come from the Lord.  No matter how difficult the struggle, no matter how discouraged we might become in the face of opposition, the Lord is with us.  We also stand with one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same God.

O God, I take refuge in you.  Please manifest your
presence in my life so that I will know that I do not
walk alone.  And help me to stand in solidarity with
the women of Jerusalem – with all of your children –
so that we will remain steadfast in our
encounters with the forces of chaos that 
tend to overwhelm us.

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