Last year on pilgrimage to the Holy Land we walked along the Via Dolorosa.
The Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrow, winds along the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is the traditional route and follows the way of Jesus as he carried his cross from Pilot’s Judgement Hall to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion.
Along this route are the Stations of the Cross, where each station or place, marks an event as Jesus walked along the way.
Saturday 31st January, we walked along the Via Delarosa, entering Jerusalem through St Stephens’ gate and stopped a while by the Pool of Bethesda. The day was sunny and bright, it was remarkable to feel so close to that day over two thousand years ago. But in the midst of walking along this route, there was a discovery of ourselves, our belief and our Christianity.
Through the streets we walked, in a group at times, and at times as individuals, with other people, tourists, local people, shop sellers. What had happened here to Jesus, could just have happened yesterday. It was in the midst of this life of a busy, bustling city where crowds gathered that saw the mood of Jerusalem change from a welcome to Jesus who had healed and performed miracles to the scourging, agony of carrying the cross and to the crucifixion.
Lost for words I walked the streets, I saw the sights, the people and the gifts for the tourists who cared to stop and to buy. The readings that we shared together at each of the stations are shortened and held as memories of that time, in that place and on that day. At some of the stations we hear about those in the crowds who helped, who are reminders of our own humanity for others who are suffering.
At each station Bishop Graham read a passage from the Bible and prayers were said at each place using www.oremus.org.
Jesus is condemned to death.
‘ Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium‘ John 18:28
Jesus takes up the cross.
‘Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.’ John 19:1,
‘Then they handed Him over to them to be crucified.’ John 19:16
‘ Give us courage to take up our cross and follow you.’
Jesus falls for the first time.
‘He would console me, and give me back my life, is far from me.’ Lamentations 1:16
At the corner of 2 streets. Jesus meets his mother.
‘All you that look and see; is there any sorrow like the sorrow that afflicts me?‘ Lamentations 1:12
Let us never fail to call out for all those who suffer.
Simon the Cyrenian carries the cross.
‘ They enlisted a passer by, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country, to carry His Cross. Mark 15:23
Those who come after me, take up the cross. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Veronica wipes the sweat from Jesus face.
‘ May the Lord’s face shine upon you.‘ Numbers 6:25
Nothing is too big or too small for us to give or offer.
The chapel of the Little Sisters of Jesus is now thought to be on the site of Veronica’s house.
Jesus falls a second time, at the place of the death notice.
‘With their affliction, He was afflicted. In His love and in His pity He redeemed them.‘ Isaiah 63:9
Help us to turn from our ways that suffering may cease.
Jesus meets the women.
‘ Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me. Weep rather over yourselves and your children’.
Luke 23: 28
Help us to know when to grieve and when to act.
Jesus falls for the third time.
‘ I have come to do your will, O God.’ Psalm 40:8
When the shouting dies, we may still walk beside you.
At Golgotha Jesus is stripped of His garments and the soldiers cast lots for his clothes.
‘From the sole of the feet to the head are bruises and sores and bleeding wounds.’ Isaiah 1:6
Help us to remember there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from your love.
Jesus is nailed to the cross and he was numbered with transgressors.
‘They crucified Jesus there with criminals, one on his right and one on his left.‘ Luke 23:33
Clothe us in your spirit, that we may bring love to those who do not know you.
Jesus on the cross. Mary, his mother and Simon Peter, his friend were at the foot of the cross…