Joint Project Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada and Antennes de paix à Montréal
Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross
“After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfill the scripture perfectly, Jesus said: ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus has taken up the vinegar he said: ‘It is accomplished;’ and bowing his head he gave up the spirit.” (Jn 19, 28-30)
Jesus dies outside Jerusalem, the city he cherished so! He dies rejected by his own, treated as a renegade and an outcast. Indeed it is the very shadow of death that is cast by the rising hostility of the people around us which leaves us no other option but to flee, not a moment too soon, to save the lives of family members and our own. And it is this shadow still that hangs over the roads crowded by displaced persons and refugees, all with their own stories of suffering to tell.
With no recourse left, when no door and no border could be opened, does not death become the ultimate wall against which everything appears to falter after having spent itself? So many refugees and displaced persons have no other life but an endless stream of dark days exposed to chance and frustrating expedients.
What greater challenge than to seek out a new life in a foreign place, against a setting of landmarks, languages and customs that are not our own! The recollection of roots and houses, the memories of cities and families go back and fourth in our hearts, and each memory hearkens back to a pledge to a spirit received and experienced.
Jesus spent his entire life as pilgrim and a stranger. Forced into exile in Egypt at birth, he dies outside the wall of Jerusalem as an outcast. After having shed so many tears over Jerusalem, Jesus has nothing more to offer than his death and his spirit. Rejected, Jesus teaches the disciples loyalty to scripture and the will to fulfill all in faith and in peace. He hands over his spirit without betraying his calling or despising those who exclude.
Let us pray:
May the words of the pilgrims become true for us: Since all are my brothers and friends, I say “Peace be with you!” Since our Lord God lives here, I pray for your happiness. Amen. (Ps 122, 8-9)