STATIONS OF THE CROSS

Why a “Steward’s Way of the Cross”? Stewardship is all about receiving God’s gifts gratefully and sharing them generously. But to be good stewards, we have to understand first that we have been blessed – that all we have are the gifts of our good and loving God. Only then can we make our use of those gifts an act of Thanksgiving to the God who gave them. Our greatest single gift from God is Jesus, his life and ministry, his death on the cross and his resurrection for our salvation. It is appropriate to look at the gift of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection through the lens of stewardship; to reflect on the Stations of the Cross and consider what gifts are being given and received in each one so that we are able to receive and rejoice more fully in the gift of God in Christ. Good and loving Father, we bring you praise and thanksgiving for the gift of your beloved Son, our Savior. As we walk this way of the cross, devoutly recalling his passion and death, send your Spirit to open our eyes to your gifts of grace that we may do this and all things in union with Christ. Amen.

THE FIRST STATION:  Jesus is condemned to death “Why? What evil has he done?” The gift of this first station is innocence. Pilate offers Jesus up for crucifixion. Jesus says nothing, but is in fact innocent of the crimes of which he is accused. An ancient Eucharistic prayer says “Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.” Through that selfless act, through his death and resurrection, we are saved. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE SECOND STATION:  Jesus carries his cross …carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull We see in this station the gift of acceptance. Following Jesus may mean accepting burdens of one kind or another, and those burdens are also a gift. Saying “Yes” to the Lord means accepting the joys and sorrows that discipleship brings. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE THIRD STATION:  Jesus falls the first time He himself was tested through what he suffered… The gift of this station is fortitude. The way of the cross is long and painful, and under the weight of the cross, Jesus stumbles and falls. But he gets up and begins again – and so must we when adversity brings us to our knees, confident that our Lord is with us in our troubles. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE FOURTH STATION:  Jesus meets his mother … he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” There are many gifts here – the gift of relationships, the gift of Mary to John and in that way, to the whole Church – but the most important gift of this station is compassion. In her anguish, Mary came out to be present to her son, and even in the pain and cruelty of the crucifixion, Jesus made sure his mother would be loved and cared for. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE FIFTH STATION:  Simon helps Jesus carry his cross …this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. The gift of this station is service. Big, strong, and available, Simon of Cyrene was a steward in spite of himself, putting those gifts to use in the service of the Lord. We have gifts to share, too, and we share them best when we are “bearing one another’s burdens,” engaged in the loving service of our neighbor. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE SIXTH STATION:  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Loving kindness is the gift of this station. Heedless of the danger to herself in a crowd of angry men, Veronica presses forward to wipe the sweat-stained face of Jesus, her love for Him overcoming her fear. In this small, loving act, we see that no gift of ours is too small or too insignificant to be offered. It is good stewardship to “do small things with great love.” Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE SEVENTH STATION:  Jesus falls the second time …it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. The gift here is endurance. Jesus falls a second time, but struggles to his feet and continues. In the Garden, He had prayed to be spared this, but rose from prayer strengthened to do the Father’s will, not his own. Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime, and to fall is not to fail. With the strength of the one who bore our burdens, we can begin again and persevere on our Christian journey. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE EIGHTH STATION:  Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem These women had followed him when he was in Galilee… These women who had faithfully followed Jesus during his ministry were drawn by their love for him into this scene of unimaginable horror. They brought emotional gifts of sympathy and concern. And, like women of every age, just by being there, they also brought the gift of presence to the one whose suffering they were not otherwise able to ease. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE NINTH STATION:  Jesus falls the third time By his wounds we have been healed. The gift of this station is selflessness. A man for others, Jesus teaches us to bear one another’s burdens, to set aside self interest and use our gifts to help the poor, the suffering, and the forgotten. Weary and weak, He summons his remaining strength to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Good stewards must follow His example. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE TENTH STATION:  Jesus is stripped of his garments “They divided my garments among them…” Here we see true humility. Stripped naked on that first Good Friday, Jesus invites us to strip away the nonessentials in our lives and focus on what really matters. Good stewards know that they have nothing – even their very life is a gift – that has not come as a gift from God. And humbly acknowledging that fact, they then use their gifts for others, in thanksgiving. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE ELEVENTH STATION:  Jesus is nailed to the cross “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Forgiveness – even for his tormentors – is the gift of this station. Discipleship is not an easy road. “If you wish to come after me,” Jesus said, “you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me. For if you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake you will save it.” And here’s the hard part… If we are truly following Jesus, we must forgive from the heart all who have hurt us in any way. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE TWELFTH STATION:  Jesus dies on the cross “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” Here we see the ultimate gift – the total self sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus who has always given himself to the will of the Father, now gives his life as well. “There is no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend,” he had told his disciples. Here on the cross as he breathes his last, he shows the depth of his love for them – and for us. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross Joseph of Arimathea… came and took his body. A tentative disciple at first, Joseph of Arimathea now braves the wrath of the authorities and asks for the body of Jesus. The gift we see in him is faithfulness. Once having committed to follow Jesus, he was faithful to the end, giving this last act of love and service. Good stewards are like that – always and everywhere saying “Yes” to the will of God, even when it’s difficult or dangerous. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb Joseph wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb The gift of this station is generosity. Joseph of Arimathea gives his own new tomb to Jesus. What a bittersweet joy he must have felt to be able to give this one last gift to the Lord. But the truth is, whenever we give generously of the gifts God has so bountifully given to us – to anyone — we give them to the Lord. It is the duty and the blessing of good stewards to give freely, as we have freely received. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.