By Mel Mantanona
This upcoming Holy Week we will journey through the commemoration of Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection. Meditation of the Stations of the Cross is a great manner for us to remember all that Jesus has done for us through his ultimate sacrifice. Who were the people that were there with Jesus along the way and what do they teach us? Aside from the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John, there are a couple of other figures highlighted during the Stations of the Cross.
Simon of Cyrene is known as the man compelled by the Roman soldiers to help carry Jesus’ cross. Simon was on his way in from the country when Roman soldiers seized him and laid the cross on him. Tradition has it that though reluctant at first, Simon, having gazed upon Jesus, changed from reluctance to willingness. Do we accept what is given to us reluctantly or willingly?
St. Veronica is the woman known to have been moved with compassion at the sight of Jesus so much that she wiped Jesus’ face on a cloth, supposedly a veil, as he was carrying his cross up to Golgotha. This was the only way she knew how to “help” Jesus carry the cross. Tradition states that an imprint of Jesus’ features remained on the cloth she used. Jesus leaves an imprint on every act of charity. The cloth is preserved as a relic in the Vatican.
Within the crowd following Jesus up to Golgotha, there are women weeping at the sight of Him in utter pain. Exhausted beyond belief, Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23:28-31). Here he is calling us to true repentance and sorrow at all the evil that has been committed.
We can only imagine what witnessing Jesus’ Passion and death would’ve been like. May we always remember, reflect, and be thankful for the ultimate sacrifice he made for us. May you have a very reverent and meaningful Holy Week and Easter this year.
Information based on St. John Paul II’s Way of the Cross