I am one familiar with misery under the rod of his anger; I am the one driven and forced to walk in darkness, and without any light. Against me alone the hand is turned again and again, all day long. My flesh and my skin are wasted away, my bones are broken. A yoke has been made for me; my head is encircled with weariness. I am forced to dwell in darkness with the dead of long ago. Lamentations 3:1 – 6, paraphrased
Reflection: In one of the streets of Jerusalem which tradition remembers as the way of the cross, there is a plaque that marks a place where a woman is said to have reached out in compassion to wipe the face of Jesus with her own veil. She is never mentioned in scripture; the name she is given is Veronica, meaning “true image.” On her veil was left the imprint of the suffering face of Jesus and the thorns that wreathed his forehead.
Veronica is every woman. She is the uncelebrated woman who ministers to the sick in a hospital ward, who guides the first words of children as they begin to learn to read. She is the faceless woman who makes connections for long distance calls, who spends her days in a factory sewing on labels. She is the unnamed woman who cleans the house and then disappears when her work is done, before the party begins. She may be the “bad lady” of our city streets, who shares her meager food with a lost teenager. There will always be a need and a place for those who are compassionate, sincere, and unpretentious in their service. There is within each human being a “true face,” a love and compassion that is a saving presence in the world of injustice and unfairness, in our own power-hungry and violent world gone mad with consumerism. When we reach out to embrace the presence of Jesus in each other, the wonder is that image of Jesus is impressed upon our own hearts.
Prayer: Crucified One, it is never easy, this standing under the cross of one who hurts. When I doubt my ability to say or do what is best, guide and direct me. When the pain of the situation seems too much to bear, strengthen and support me. When I feel helpless and lone, remind me of how near you are. When I grow weary and impatient, fill me with your love. May all who hang upon a cross of suffering find comfort and consolation in your abiding presence. Ease their suffering. Free them from discouragement. Gentle their anger. Cease their restlessness. Coax them away from despair.
Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, AMEN.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, AMEN.