Lenten season offers me the opportunity to genuflect in reverence and reflect on the passion of Christ on the Way of the Cross every Wednesdays and Fridays. The exercise has become a routine for me. Growing up, I remember mimicking the leading priests in their lead and responses. The whole exercise had been dismissed as the cross of being a child of a diehard Catholic. With age, experiences, and most importantly, the Grace of God, I have come to understand and admire the wisdom of the church to inculcate the "Way of the Cross" into the preparation for Easter. The church clearly tells us that we cannot be Easter people, if we detest the suffering of the cross. To further appreciate this year and the coming ones, I have here, for us, 14 stops we must make on our way to the place of our redemption.

1. Jesus condemned to death

Choosing between politically correct and morally correct. In Pontius Pilate, we see a reflection of ourselves putting Jesus on trial again. Though we are provided with the truth, we rather choose to be politically correct than to be morally correct; we choose pragmatism over principle. In Jesus condemnation before Pilate and also today, though Jesus was not ready to defend himself, he chose the exercise to point us to the dangers of living for the likes, pleasing the crowd at the detriment of the truth, and viewing holy and spiritual activities with carnal mind.

Pilate sought for the truth, and he got it, yet he did not consider it in his judgment.   The truth is not controversial. Jesus told him his kingdom was not of this world; hence he is not willing to challenge the authority of Rome. The accused demonstrated that his kingdom was not a kingdom of rebellion, but that of revelation. All the evidences that were weaved with lies and empty accusations were put to shred by the truth as being dispensed by Christ during his close encounter with Pilate, yet he chose to seize the opportunity to please Caesar and the Jews. Though he washed his hands off the guilt, yet the condemnation hangs on his neck as much as the very people who were putting Jesus on trial. Pilate might be politically correct, but he was morally bankrupt!

At this station, I will stop to examine, how in union with the world, I still put Jesus on trial, seek for the truth, yet live in its denial of its consequences. Rather than put the truth on trial, I will dock and condemn my penchant for pleasing the crowd, risk the anger and outcry of the evil voices, and reconcile with God.

2. Jesus carries his Cross

He had talked about it and his action matched his words. He knew he would be condemned and his tool of execution would be handed to him to carry. He was certain when he told his friends that the price of discipleship will be paid by how we accept the suffering of the cross without complaint. The creature put the weight of their ingratitude, hate, envy, pride, and guilt on the shoulder of its creator, yet He accepted it with utmost humility. He was not coerced to suffering, but chose the Father's will over this earthly pleasure.

I have always wondered what the cross of Christ was made of. Of course, a horizontal beam and vertical length! The horizontal beam of problems we encounter in our quest for terrestrial salvation - the weight of survival, the diseases that plague our body, the war that decimate us, the corruption that leaves us in perpetual grumbling, the race to seek relevance, hunger and its legion of ravaging forces. We can go on and on, but the common link with all these matter that constitute the weight of the horizontal beam, is that they are purely and wholly things of this world that will perish in this world. Though I am not of this world, I need to bear the weight of this cross with humble acceptance with full submission to God's will. The vertical length are the weight and challenges of seeking higher values and virtues; virtues that guarantee my transition from terrestrial to celestial, human to immortality. The weight of working out my salvation by uplifting the virtues of hope, faith and love, is hard on me, but Jesus acceptance of the cross has been a reference point. He demonstrates everyday that if we accept and follow him with our crosses, we shall always do the impossible. He tells us that though the yoke may be heavy, our humble acceptance is the first step in the right direction.

At this station, I will consider those challenges and struggles, which have made me refuse and hold suffering in disdain. I will  accept the crown of thorns pressed into my head, and will seek for the will of God in my anguish.

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