STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eight — Jesus Meets The Women Of Jerusalem, by Henri Nouwen

stations of the cross nouwen

From Walk With Jesus

The Nicaraguan women weep over the destruction of their people, their land, and their homes.  Their children, whom they nursed and brought up with tenderness and affection, suddenly lie dead before them.  Their husbands, with whom they shared life’s hardness and beauty, are suddenly taken away to unknown destinations.  Their land is ruined, their crops burned, their houses bombed.  And so they weep.  Their tears are tears that well up from their innermost being.  There are no words, no explanations, no arguments, no meaningful reflections.  War, violence, murder, and destruction need tears, many tears.  The questions, “Why?  By Whom?  For what purpose?” have no answers.

The world would be better with more such tears and fewer answers.  They well up from a place beyond bitterness, resentment, and vengefulness.  They are shed as an offering of “useless” love, as an expression of solidarity, as a true act of nonviolence.

Our world does not mourn much, even when there are so many reasons to mourn.  As wars explode; as people die from violence and starvation, natural disasters, and technical failures; as works made by human hands with great skill and devotion are stolen, damaged, or destroyed; and as our planet becomes an increasingly threatened place in the universe, we begin to worry about solutions, but we seldom stop to mourn the loss of what was dear to us.  But, if we have not first mourned our loss, can any solution we arrive at be a real gain?


As Jesus was led to his execution, women mourned and lamented for him.  These women were accustomed to cry for condemned criminals and offer them sedative drinks.  They were official mourners, and their mourning was considered a work of mercy.  But Jesus says to them: “Do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children,” (Luke 23:28).  Jesus points to the destruction of Jerusalem and to all the war and violence that will come upon humanity: “The days are surely coming, when people will say: ‘Blessed are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne children, the breasts that have never suckled’; then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if this is what is done to the green wood, what will be done when the wood is dry?” (Luke 23:29-31)


If we want to mourn for Jesus, we have to mourn for the suffering humanity that Jesus came to heal.  If we are truly sad because of the suffering and pain which he suffered, we will include in our sadness all of the men, women, and children who suffer in our present world.  If we cry over the death of the innocent Holy One of Nazareth, our tears must be able to reach the millions of innocents who have suffered over the long history of the human race.

Weeping and mourning are considered by many people as signs of weakness.  They say that crying will not help anybody.  Only action is needed.  And still, Jesus wept over Jerusalem; he wept also when he heard that his friend Lazarus had died.  Our tears reveal to us the painful human condition of brokenness; they connect us deeply with the inevitability of human suffering; they offer the gentle context for compassionate action.  If we cannot confess our own limitations, sin, and mortality, then our well-intended actions for the making of a better world easily backfire on us and become expressions of an undirected anger and frustration.  Our tears can lead us to the heart of Jesus who wept for our world.  As we weep with him, we are led to his heart and discover there the most authentic response to our losses.  The tears shed by the women of Nicaragua and the millions who mourn their dead throughout the world, can make our soil rich with the fruits of compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, and healing action.  We, too, must weep and so become more and more humble people.

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