We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Was it a pebble or a rock? Was it a push or a slap? Was it verbal abuse or fatigue? Was it ….. We’ll never know what led to the first fall but we can be certain it wasn’t easy. Even burdened beneath the weight of the cross, there is a pride that keeps us going – a sort of determination not to lose face. We’ve all done it, a stumble and then a quick look to see if anyone noticed and, depending on whether it was noticed or not, embarrassment or relief. We might be able to pull off the stumble, maybe even to put it down to error but there’s no denying the fall.
There’s something very sad about seeing someone who has fallen on the ground – fallen on hard times, fallen behind. There’s a genuine wish, especially if they’re known to us and loved by us, that the fall hadn’t taken place. It’s uncomfortable to watch someone on the ground. It’s a degrading place to be and, quite often in movies and plays, the man on the ground is to be pitied since he’s at the receiving end of brutality.
Such is the case in this third station. Jesus’ fall has come. He doesn’t call it his “first fall” since the hope is that it might be the only one. As we will see later on, this hope was not realised. Jesus came to pick up the fallen so maybe it’s not without significance that he is presented here as a man, mouth under, face down on the ground. It’s a moment of choice. Stay there or get up. We know the choice he made. It would not have been unreasonable were he to say, “No, I can’t go any further. What you’ve to do, do here ….” but no, he found his feet again and continued the journey.
This seems to be a station for the fallen one – for all of us who have been caught off guard and who have lost our footing. Don’t lose hope, feel the ground beneath you not so much as threat or enemy as launching pad to make a fresh start.
Let’s get up ….. the ground isn’t the best place for us.
Oh, that today we would listen to his voice, let us harden not our hearts.