A Contemplation for Lent. By Florian Kolfhaus.
During lent we contemplate the passion of Christ. It is not simply about remembering what happened to Jesus 2000 years ago, but to realize that he has done all that for me. It was every single human being – including myself – whom he had in mind when he was sentenced to death, tortured, and crucified. Every station on the way of the cross he appeals to me to show me how much he loves me.
When Jesus stands before the Roman governor he tells me: “I judge the one who renounces love. But my judgement is different from that of Pontius Pilate because I put myself in the culprit’s place. I bow to the unjust judgement of the Roman governor so you can be acquitted. Can you fathom how much I love you?“
When he lifts the cross on his shoulders he thinks of the burden of my life: “I do not carry wood on my shoulders destined for fire. I carry the world. Much like a beast of burden, I carry all humankind and every single one. I carry you. Every sin, every bad deed is a blow in my side, is a painful wound that urges me to walk on ever the more. My love carries you. Nothing is too heavy because I love you. I ask you to join me on this road. Help me carry the world. I know you are afraid of the cross, afraid of being crushed by its weight. But there is nothing too heavy for you because I love you. I ask you to allow this to happen, because I need your help and I long for your love. Don’t you feel you are closer to me now than you have ever been before?”
Nailed to the timber of the cross he is looking at me as if I was the only person on earth and it was for me alone that he endured death: “I could free myself from these beams, could just climb down. No, these nails cannot hold me – but you, you can. It is all for you that this happens. My gaze will rest upon you until the very last moment, and it is because I see you that I can bear all this. If all this suffering, this pain, bitterness and shame and these wounds are the price I have to pay for you – you are worth it without a doubt. Let my wounds be yours, just like yours have become mine.
Jesus is suffering because he wants to convert us into people who love. He calls us to take up our crosses because he wants our friendship. The prayer of the way of the cross is not merely a pious devotional practice that might move some “pious soul” to tears, a chance to study the suffering of Jesus and others from a safe distance. No, it is in fact an invitation to come along. The point is to let Jesus talk to me in a very personal way and to breast the hill of my own Via Dolorosa. With him on the way, the road of suffering turns into a “Via Amorosa”. At the end of that road I know that no affliction – if born with just the tiniest spark of love – is futile. It is not about getting through life unharmed, it is about finding salvation in life.
Praying the Stations of the Cross teaches us to believe in love even if everything appears dark. Even if we keep falling, looking to him gives us the strength to get up, rise again and walk on, because he tells us – again and again: “Look at me. Never will you fall deeper than I have.” In so doing the way of the cross becomes the way of life that does not end in the night of Good Friday, but in the light of Easter Sunday.
Excerpt translated from: Florian Kolfhaus, Via Dolorosa, Der Kreuzweg Christi, ISBN 978-3-940879-20-2
Including 28 colour images of the Via Dolorosa by Peter Christoph Düren, Augsburg 2012. 80 p. Hardback. Thread stitching. Ribbon.