17 April 2014

Daughters of Jerusalem: Cry

Luke 23:27-31

I cry
for you -
for those scars on your back.
I cry
for you -
for the cross that you bear.
I cry
for you
and for what's soon to come.

I can't bear to look,
and yet I'm staring,
as blood and sweat
pour down your face.
I cry and cry,
I cry for you.

I cry
for you -
they say you're innocent.
I cry
for you -
they said you'd save us all.
I cry
for you
and all those dashed hopes.

You pass - you stop.
You look at me,
as streaming tears
flow from my eyes.
Why do you cry?
Don't cry for me.
Cry for yourselves -
cry for your sins.

I cried
for you -
because of their cruelty.
But do I ever cry
when I'm cruel myself?
I cried
for you -
for the wrong they were doing.
But do I ever cry
for the wrongs that I've done?
Do I ever see
the wrong path that I'm walking
and cry
for the death I am bringing
on myself?

In your suffering,
in your pain,
you thought first of me.
As they lead you
to your death
you want life for me.
How can I comprehend
this crazy love
that turns a day of mourning
into the key to joy -
as you bleed and sweat
and cry and die
for me.


[17. April 2014]

The "daughters of Jerusalem" are women who were crying as Jesus was led through the streets to Calvary. Jesus told them to cry about the impending judgement rather than cry for Him.

I tried to bring together two things. One was the fact that Jesus, even while He was suffering, thought not of Himself first, but of the people. This comes out especially in the last stanza. The other was something I read in a prayer by Michel Quoist on this text. Michel Quoist linked this scene to the verse on first taking the beam out of one's own eye before helping the other with a speck of dust (Lk 6) - i.e. it's easy to pity other people's sufferings and pass blame, and harder to see one's own sins.

I find it important, when we think of Jesus' suffering, that we don't just get angry at the Pharisees and Romans and all those people who called for Jesus' death. We might imagine ourselves being the ones who stick with Jesus and - like these women - cry for Him, side with Him, in His suffering. But He doesn't really want people to side with Him and feel sorry for His suffering: He wants us to realise that we are sinners like the rest, He wants us to repent. Not because we are so "bad", but because we are not better. We are not holier. We are no less needy. We need to recognise our need for reconciliation and salvation, our need for Jesus.

I am aware that nowadays some people find it hard to live with being called a "sinner"; it has such negative connotations and people have been pressurised and hurt with that word before. The way I see it, though, we all have a brokenness, we all have parts of ourselves that we realise are not right, there's things we are ashamed of. And the thing is we need to recognise it, bring it before God, and let Him heal it. He does not condemn. He goes to the cross. And on the way to the cross, He cares first for us with all our sin-load and shame, and His reminder to us on the way to the cross is: cry first for your sins. Recognise and admit what is broken in your life. Not in order to break down under it, but in order to finally let it go and let it be healed.

The "daughters of Jerusalem" also make up stage 8 of the "Via Crucis" or Way of the Cross.
Picture is from the church of St. John Nepomucen in Brenna (wherever that is o.O)

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