The seventh line of the sonnet is “You felt your body conquered by the strain.” In the traditional Stations of the Cross, Jesus falls three times. Station 7 remembers the second fall. In our empire world view it is difficult to imagine that weakness is an asset. Jesus teaches us that in the kingdom of God the first shall be last. He teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that the meek, not the powerful, will inherit the earth. He draws our attention to children, sparrows, flowers, yeast, the tiniest of seeds, and the widow’s mite. He stops to heal the leper, the blind beggar, a crippled man, a woman sick with a condition for twelve years. He disparages those who seek the seat of honor, and praises those who choose to be last. He loves the weak. He, himself, chose to humble himself to death on a cross, submit to the pain and humiliation of torture, and fall beneath the weight of the cross.
“But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose
what the world thinks weak to shame the strong” (I Corinthians 1:27)
Again, reflecting Jesus suffering on the cross, a variety of crosses will fill this pane. The image above was a stencil that was created for a papercut banner making project in Mbarrara, Uganda. The project involved both HIV positive patients and their doctors at the Baptist Church in Mbarrara. One of the patients collaborated with me in this design. A cross is formed with AIDS ribbons. I think the patient group, Go and Make Disciples, adopted the design as their logo. I like the way the design makes a branch of leaves in the center of the cross. To the patients the leaves were a symbol of the new life that treatment provided even after an AIDS diagnosis.
“And still you spoke with selflessness and grace” is the eighth line of the sonnet. At the eighth Station of the Cross we are reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the women who are weeping for him along the way. Here Jesus has suffered intense brutality and is facing his own death by mutilation on a cross. He has been rejected by those he came to save. In a few hours he would feel forsaken by the Father, and bear the sins of the world. With all this spiritual and physical conflict swirling in his head and body, he noticed the women beside the road, weeping for him, and took a moment to speak to them.
He directed their sorrow away from him and toward themselves. He mourned for them. He bore their sorrow, as he had many times during his ministry. He had compassion for the crowds that came to hear him, for the grieving mother who had just lost her only son, and for two blind beggars who were sitting beside the road. He told stories about people who were compassionate. Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus, and he cried when he walked over the hill and saw the city of Jerusalem on his last trip into the city. He taught us “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) and Paul encouraged us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
I have chosen to represent the women beside the Via Crucis with a design similar to the one chosen to represent Mary. She surely was among the women who mourned. This is my sketch-cut of the women. It’s still a work in progress.