Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday—Stations of the Cross, 1-4

The Stations of the Cross offer a way for Christians to contemplate Jesus’ life, passion and death. The stations help us meditate on our own lives. What paths have we taken? How do our lives reflect Jesus’ teachings?

In writing these meditations, I am coming from a particular perspective on Jesus’ life. Jesus took a path of non-violent resistance to oppression and tyranny—the tyranny of the Roman Empire and the enforcement of Roman law by the Judean political and religious leaders. Jesus’ life was a message of hope for the Judeans living under Roman military rule and he died because he spoke up for those who were suffering and challenged the system of oppression.

Many Palestinians are living their lives on this same path Jesus took, and the Stations of the Cross reflect their suffering too. The texts are taken from the lessons for Good Friday—Isaiah 52.13-53.12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 4.14-16, 5.7-9 and10.26-25; John 18.1-19.42.

1—Jesus is condemned

“We have no king but the emperor” (Jn 19. 16)

Today there are 183 children in the Israeli Prison System, according to their own statistics, as recorded on B’Tselem’s website. Children are usually arrested for throwing stones. They are in the military court system; their parents are not allowed to see them; they do not have a lawyer. When they are being questioned, they are often told they can see their mothers when they give names of people in their village who are conspiring against Israel. This is a horrible choice for children to have to make.

2—Christ receives his cross

Carrying his cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. (Jn19.17)

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built over the site where Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are believed to have taken place. The location is considered likely because Christians have venerated this site since 66 AD. Golgotha is a large rock that lies under the church and is visible in several places inside. Long lines of pilgrims wait to touch the rock in one of the chapels. As you can imagine, the crowds in the holy places are immense during Holy Week and Easter—pilgrims come from all over the world, but Christians who live in Bethlehem, a distance of about six miles, are unable to get permits to visit and Israeli soldiers block many of the entrances to the Old City, so it is difficult for anyone to be there on this holy day.

3—Jesus falls for the first time

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears… (Heb 5.7)

In Palestine news media, stories like this one happen every day…

Ramallah, April 10, 2014—A four-month-old baby was injured when an Israeli air strike hit meters away from his home in central Gaza.

Photo: Mohammad al-Tatar, with his father Tamer. The four-month-old baby received a head wound When an Israeli airstrike hit nearby.

Mohammad al-Tater from Al-Meghraqa was left “bleeding profusely” after the force of the explosion smashed windows in the house and scattered shrapnel throughout the bedrooms.

The attack came at 1:45 am on April 4 and struck a piece of farmland approximately 100 meters (328 feet) from the house. Full story…

4—Jesus meets his mother

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Jn 19.26-27

When children are arrested by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, the soldiers ride into the village in armored jeeps around 2 am, pile out of the vehicle and bang on the door of the home. I have heard and read this same story many times. They sometimes break down the door. They order the whole family outside, including even the babies. They beat the child right there, in front of his younger siblings and his father and his mother. Then they put him in one of the vehicles, often in his sleepwear, no jacket or shoes. And they take him to a nearby police station, which is usually in an Israeli settlement. And his mother cannot see him. She spends long hours, sometimes days, finding out where they have taken him.
Photo: Fourteen-year-old Ibrahim's parents, Mohammad and Sulha (right and center), tells us the story of his arrest when we visited Beit Ummar in 2010.

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