Friday, March 21, 2008

14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb

The tomb is closed. We can now go home, but where is home now that Jesus has gone? Do I return to Nazareth or do I stay here in Jerusalem? What does John want to do?

John. You are now my son, but I would far rather have my beloved Jesus, the son of my own body, here with me, alive and well. As a mother, I would have spared him even a moment of suffering and yet I could not. The world has not yet seen that Jesus and I were inextricably linked from the moment of his conception, when his life was truly safe within my own. True, I could say that we were together from all eternity, but I am a woman who cannot look back into eternity. My backward gaze sees the visit of the angel and knows the instant when Jesus was present in my womb. From that moment, we lived and breathed and acted as one, even when we were far apart.

I cannot describe the anguish at the foot of the Cross. It is all too recent and my heart and mind are numb with pain and horror. I am glad that I had the opportunity to hold my cherished child in my arms once more before we made our way to a borrowed tomb. Yes, I had met Joseph of Arimathea before today, but little did I know that he would be offering Jesus a tomb just as my own Joseph offered him a home.

My Joseph. If only you were here with me at this moment. I feel your absence more keenly than ever before now that I do not have Jesus at my side. I remember the moment when Jesus and I left you in your tomb, but now that I am also leaving Jesus on a stone slab, I am lonely as I have never known or imagined possible.

Yet even in my loneliness, there are others who are also devastated by the death of Jesus. Mary Magdalen. She met my Son and was transformed. It was a miracle, certainly, for someone of her reputation and experience to suddenly put her life in order and become one of the most faithful followers of Jesus. Meeting Jesus gave her the opportunity to realise that all the powerful love that she held within her and had abused, could be put to good purpose and be life-giving.

Mary, my dear cousin, mother of James and Joseph. Your son abandoned mine and yet you and I stood together at the foot of my Son’s disgrace and glory. I think that James will never forget that whereas he was a coward, afraid for his own life, his mother ignored the inevitable gossip and criticism in an effort to give me the comfort and support that I needed. You did not forget your nephew and covered up for the shortcomings of your son. How can I ever thank you?

John. How did your mother feel when she heard Jesus tell you that I was to be your mother? She was also there as Jesus breathed his last. Her son James had run away and her son John was given to another woman. Did she feel that she, too, was suddenly bereaved and left alone? How will she bear the loss of two sons within such a short time? You were both there for me, but you were not present for your mother… or did you think that you were being torn asunder between your concerns for Jesus, for me and for her? How could you have known what to do?

John, when Jesus died, it was your responsibility as son to find him a burial place. Did you ask Joseph of Arimathea, or was he here on his own initiative? He had stood against the Sanhedrin of which he is a member, and had braved the anger of Herod as he asked for permission to remove Jesus from the Cross. He was brave. He was not always so, but it seems that the death of Jesus has brought out hidden strengths in some people. Whereas Joseph had initially approached Jesus under cover of darkness, here, he tackled Herod in the clear light of day, before the setting of the sun heralded the coming of the Sabbath.

We have not had time to properly anoint Jesus for his burial. That is something that will have to wait until after the Sabbath. We must return here early on Sunday morning.

Jesus, I bitterly regret that we have had so little time to prepare your body. You deserve so much honour and yet you have received so much hatred and rejection.

Yet, although the cross was meant to be the greatest form of degradation that could by inflicted upon you, it was also your glory. You chose to accept death, following your father’s will so closely even though you knew that the consequences of such obedience would be so terrible.

Jesus, your Cross was your glory. It is still too recent for me to say that I exult in all that you achieved. My heart is still overflowing with too much pain for me to say that, but, Jesus, as we close the door of your tomb, I can say, as only a mother can, that I am proud of you, my dearest, beloved Son.

All that you have done in such a short life will be heralded for all ages to come. Your words will never be forgotten. They will be borne within other hearts and minds, giving others the strength and the courage to totally commit themselves to your Father.

Jesus, Joseph and I would want nothing more than your total fidelity to your real Father: God.

Jesus, you are my Son, but you are also the Son of God.

God bless,

Sr. Janet