“Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory (Luke 24:26).”
The events of Holy Week are a stark reminder of the terrible sufferings endured by Christ for the sake of our salvation. The rejection, the condemnation, the mocking, the beatings, the spittle, the scourging, the taunting, the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear – all of this was suffered by Christ out of love for you and me. These things were horrible, but necessary. If there was another way, Christ would have travelled that route. But there was no other way. To enter his glory, and to make possible our sharing in that glory, the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, was required.
Every serious follower of Jesus Christ knows that the steps of the Via Crucis must be retraced in their own life. This reality is sobering but not unexpected. St. Peter, whose personal Via Crucis concluded upside down on a cross, wrote these words to the Christian people: “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly (1 Peter 4:12-13).”
For each believer, the “sufferings of Christ” take a unique form in their own life. One disciple may suffer quite openly from sickness or personal tragedy. Another may bear the weight of an unseen and hidden interior trial. Some may struggle with doubt or temptation. Some may feel the effects of weakness and failure. Too many must bear the stinging rebukes of those hostile to the Gospel of Christ. But each who claims the name of Christian must join the Master on Calvary.
The Church too must continually live out the events of Holy Week. In our present time and in our present culture, we see the Church driven to her knees by the impact of the abuse scandal. We read of her teachings being mocked and her leaders being ignored. She bears constantly the sorrow of sins committed by her own sons and daughters. But so it has always been for the Church and so it shall always be. The road of suffering is the road of salvation.
“This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:11-12).” During Holy Week, and indeed throughout the weeks of our lives, Jesus asks that we follow him to Calvary. But if we follow him to the ignominy of the cross, so too shall we be with him in the glory of the resurrection. Good Friday holds no meaning unless followed by Easter. Neither do the sufferings we endure have value unless they are united to those of Christ. The Via Crucis is in reality a highway to healing, peace and eternal happiness. The Way of the Cross is the only road to heaven.
Be assured of my prayers,