1. Agony in the garden
In the agony of the garden, Jesus cried out to be delivered from death. I often cry out to be delivered to it! Though its impossible to pray with the fervor He did on that night, my heart still feels like its being torn in two. My agony comes from the thought that I may have to face another day (& another & another...) & there's no angel consoling me (Lk 22:43). But I discovered I can unite my heart with His in saying I don't want to go through with this. Isn't there some other way? I can also unite my heart to His resolve: "not My will but Yours be done".
2. Scourging at the pillar
At the scourging of the pillar, Jesus received the lashes as an innocent man. I wish I could have taken those lashes because I feel like I'm so much more deserving. Each lash is a thing done to me... a mean word, a rejection, a misunderstanding... Each lash opens up the anger & fear & sadness I've experienced & the wounds I've inflicted on others as a result. As I picture Jesus's hands tied to the pillar, as I picture Him on His knees being struck & bleeding, I picture me & realize He must know how I hurt too.
3. Crowning with thorns
In the course of the third "mystery", the guards clothed Jesus' bleeding body with a scarlet robe & wove a crown of thorns which they beat into His head. They hit Him & spat on Him... They mocked Him with snide words & blasphemy. They made Him a laughing stock, a punching bag, a plaything. The guards in my life also mocked me. I was given a "mental" crown of thorns which was beat into my head. I was given a "mental" robe which stank & stuck to my open wounds. I was made a laughing stock, a punching bag, a plaything. Yet Jesus stayed silent through it all because He knew Who He really was. As I think of this, I find it difficult to stifle my pain or my desire to retaliate in some way even now, so many years later... and then I realize He & I shared this experience too. I see in His suffering a reflection of my own.
4. Carrying the cross
In the fourth mystery, we find Jesus carrying His cross through the city streets, past people shouting profanities & women weeping & wailing... The soldiers surround Him & whip Him like cattle, trying to get Him moving faster. Tradition tells us He fell three times on the way, while scripture tells us that Simon of Cyrene, a passer-by, was eventually made to carry Jesus' cross. When I find I am too weak to walk, let alone hold on to my cross, when I find myself continuing to fall, its ok to acknowledge this isn't working for me. I need help. Even Jesus couldn't make it on His own.
Jesus is crucified in the fifth mystery. Finally, His agony gets to end. I wish that I were there with Him... not to console Him as much as to die with Him... But the reality is He has actually chosen to die with me. He endured His suffering not necessarily to take mine away, but to experience it with me. He took the wounds in His physical body like I've taken wounds in my "emotional body"... and once I'm able to grab hold of this, I can begin to unite His death to my desire for it. In a sense, I crucify my flesh with His (Gal. 5:24).
So what comes after that? 3 days in a tomb & a glorious resurrection unto a new life? If only it were that easy. For now, I'm content just to know that someone "gets it"...