Lenten Reflection: Fifth Station of the Cross: Re-visiting Our Role on Calvary
Simon, we may soon be asked by the God-less to pick up the cost of abortion. Abortion. Isn´t that the ridding—the casting out—of what society fears? Sure it is. And it isn´t free.
See, for a society that aborts and contracepts… well, things can get expensive. There´s all that silphium that must be produced and distributed. And then there´s those costly side-effects. Fortunately we have our chosen deities who make sure it remains engraved in our economy. And legal. Oh, and safe, too. The deities ask only two things in return. First, that we refer to it as "medicine." And second, that we don´t ask what it will do to future generations.
But we who walk by Faith know it for what it is: the destroyer of life, the poison of families, and the harm of all women. Now, we watch as it brings our nation to a halt. We were warned about this. In fact, Simon helped us hear the warning that day he shared in the Passion.
It´s an oracle for us all. A harsh saying. Especially for ears seduced by Apollo´s voice, which is sweet and convincing. Jesus´ words are hard—but Truth. They´re Immortal as well.
"Daughters of Jerusalem," Jesus says right after Simon arrives (Luke 23:28), "do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.'"
Barren women? Wombs that don´t bear children? Hearing this, Simon´s brain must´ve rattled. He knew the earth. He knew that fertility was a blessing. But he also knew that men make trade of the things of the earth. It´s how economies are created. How commodities take on value. And how an herb used for food costs less than an herb used to cause sterility in women. Cyrene and the silphium on the coin in Simon´s pocket were a prototype of, well, us.
As the wood of the cross jarred Simon´s thinking, it shakes our world too. Sooner (or later) we figure it out: Jesus´ words speak to all nations, and for all time. We figure something else out, too: false gods deceive. We were supposed to be happy with wombs that didn't bear children. Breasts weren't supposed to nourish. It was all supposed to be about a comfortable, pleasant life. And the silphium of our era was supposed to make the world right. Using it, even the cosmos would be pleased. The globe would remain undisturbed, sustaining, cool and without anger. All´s we had to do was cast away the burden… separate out that which pleases from that which discomforts. It´s the language of ancient, dead, pagan cultures, and we´ve learned it well: Happy are those who accept the gifts of gods, and in return, surrender the fruit of the womb.
But what have we done since Calvary?!
In our selfishness and fear, we turned away from the True Prophet… from Truth Himself… who speaks of the power that´s within each and every mere mortal. It´s a power Apollo hates. The power to reproduce. The power to nourish. The power of fatherhood and motherhood. Especially motherhood! Now, our sisters weep. And Jesus, bleeding and beaten, calls out to us one last time, warning us that our voluntary barrenness is our shame.
"At that time," Jesus goes on, still gasping for each cherished breath, "people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!"
Why would a man on the way to His death waste His words?
Perhaps because he loves us. Especially the wounded. The weeping women reminded Him of the future—a time when secret shame and private guilt… and the cries of broken-hearted mothers… would echo back to Him and His purpose.
The Daughters of Jerusalem cried for us that day when Simon let Jesus speak. At least that must be our hope. Like Simon, they heard the way out. With a question, this oracle from the Prophet of prophets is presented in full. It's the solution to our problem. The answer to the riddle. Jesus simply wants us to wonder—for His next words provide a clue:
"For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
The soldiers must have laughed: this bleeding, dehydrated outcast must be going insane!
But the question gave Simon something to ponder as he struggled up the hill of death. He would have known what happens when wood dries out. He was the agrarian. But it was all becoming so painful. The prophecy… the question… the cross…. Simon was sharing in the torment by now. If only we could hear the private words spoken that day between a man who was seeking his God, and the God he was finding.
I'll show you what will happen to the wood, Jesus said quietly while Simon dragged it along. Stay with Me, all the way to the end.
Jesus loved Simon, and the weeping women. And us. He would not put forth the question—especially after such a haunting oracle—then abandon His sad, hurting followers without answering.
This hill doesn't have to crush you, He would tell them. I will conquer this hill, and all the mounds of death. Stay until the end, and then you will see me on my cross… lifted up… like a tree.
His skin… the bark… was already torn. His cramping limbs would soon be nailed down.
Stay… just a little longer. They know very little about this wood I'm talking about. Every fiber of my body will be drained out, and you´ll hear Me say "I thirst" to prove it. Don´t hide. Just watch.
Simon would watch. He was about to witness everything in the natural world line up and point directly at an event that would forever shake the cosmos. It was God´s true Gift to the world… planted on a hill of discarded lives… to redeem us all. The Tree of Life.
Then, as if to prove that this couldn´t be real, all the forces of Hades and evil and death—they all lined up as well. As decreed by the powers of those who govern like cowards and liars, a soldier was told to raise his spear. It was pushed up… from that dark, dark place where all the hatred of Life has ever been stored… and into the heart of a son.
As mothers gasped, He was opened up. Water and blood flowed. He was... empty.
We know this mixture. It hasn´t stopped flowing since the day Simon met Jesus. It´s a sparkling river now, according to Revelation (ch. 22)... the Fountain of Life, at the very center of Heaven where followers of false gods and lovers of deceit are forever banned from polluting it. The Daughters of Jerusalem, and all of Jesus' sisters, thirst for it more than men can ever imagine.
Unwittingly, we've let our sisters be drained by contraceptives and abortions, making them barren, sterile objects. Like Rachel in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:15), they've cried themselves dry. If we ever get to the river, the Simons of the world must step aside to let them have the first drink.
The above is used with the author's permission from the book Simon and My Sisters by Len Gutmann, contributing writer for Catholic Online. Len lives in the Detroit area. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and is active in his parish's pro-life group. A carpenter and the father of four, he writes with the support of his wife, and at the behest of JPII's call to work for the new evangelization.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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