As He falls the third time…

...meanwhile, let’s remember that Jesus has been there…with His energy almost completely depleted and the weight of the Cross crushing His body, He conquered this Station.

Mar 17, 2023

…meanwhile - Joanne Lim

…Jesus summons every ounce of strength, rises up, and drags His Cross to the place where He will be killed.

Having run several marathons in my lifetime, the final 15km is no longer about physical strength. That is the intense stretch, almost humanly impossible, especially at a pace of 5:30min/km. All there is left to depend on is mental (and spiritual) strength. Yet, we run to the finish line, mustering every last ounce of strength, dragging ourselves to complete the race in order to try and conquer our own limitations and fears…of course, having come thus far, what a waste of blood, sweat and tears otherwise!

In the last 15km of the marathon, I often start to pray the Rosary…at every bead, I pray for my loved ones…each one of them, whether near and far…I pray for the sick and suffering, the homeless and hungry, the lost and lonely…I pray for our clergy, especially those who may be unable to resist the temptations of the world. 12km…I pray for the souls of those dearly departed…and those still wandering, longing for prayers…those who chose to abandon their crosses and to give up on one another, on themselves….eight kilometres…I pray for God’s forgiveness and recount my sins...a sudden surge of remorse and sadness always overwhelms me: “Why did I hurt others when I could have chosen otherwise?”…at five kilometres, I am faced with visions of death: “what if I collapse now, so close to finishing; who will I be leaving behind”…another surge of emotions – this time of desperation…I haven’t done all that I need to do in this life…Lord, please spare me! And with that one last bead, that final one kilometre, I pray that God will lead me home to my family: “they are waiting for my vindaloo!” …no, this pain will not last, “and this too shall pass.” – 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

Often we are consumed by what is understood as ‘crowd mentality’ and like the ‘crowd’ in Jerusalem jeering at Christ, we hear “no you can’t do this, you won’t make it”; “you are too weak, just give up!”; “you’ve gone too far to ever turn back”; “there is no way you can stand back up”…and unlike Jesus who stood back up, we oftentimes believe these voices…we give in to them…like a voice in the dark, sometimes even from someone so close by, we believe this is truth and we instinctively fall a step back…10 steps back…only to realise that we made a mistake and the voice was unmistakably ungodly. We literally become limp and lame… “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” Luke 22:42

For Jesus however, He dragged His Cross to the place where He would be killed. He heard the crowd…but He chose not to listen. And therein was His victory…the choice to stay fervent to the will of His Father…and to reign victorious forever, even in death.

If you started a race knowing it will end in death, you would not even start. However, life is a marathon, and we are all headed towards the finishing line…and Jesus showed us exactly how it is done as He fell the third (and final) time – that He would never fall again.

I lost two of my loved ones last year…a dearest friend to the ravaging agony of cancer, and my loving grandma who held on until she no longer could. As death approached them, I felt my own life escape me…it was a helplessness…the same helplessness and hopelessness that I felt as I was lying in the hospital bed, waiting to be wheeled into the operating theatre for a major surgery five years ago…God’s plan, not ours; in God’s time, not mine… “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Luke 23:46. Grandma and Marie fought the good fight, right till the very end…they obeyed God and waited to be set free. Therein lies their victory.

And so, even with the third fall, even with nothing left in us to give or to live by, we are with Jesus at the ninth Station, not to give up, but to rise up and to drag our crosses – our burdens, our sorrows, our inequities, our pain, our suffering, our sins, our struggles, our anger, agony, misery, anguish, our griefs, and our disappointments, with us, to the finishing line. Yes, many of us know this Station all too well…it sounds all too familiar…it is what keeps us awake at night and even what keeps us away from our Faith…it is the same voice that prompts suicidal thoughts when we are near defeat or adds to the mental anguish lurking at many turns in our life. Yet we soldier on because we also know that this main story does not end with Jesus’ death at Golgotha but, instead, unfolds into a beautiful truth of our salvation… everlasting life.

Don’t lose the plot — Get up! You can do it. Don’t let ‘you know who’ win. Jesus got up, we must too.

...meanwhile, let’s remember that Jesus has been there…with His energy almost completely depleted and the weight of the Cross crushing His body, He conquered this Station. So, here’s the good news…that because our strength is from Him, we too will eventually pull through…victoriously. So, let us laugh in the face of adversity, for as Matthew 12:21 tells us in no uncertain terms, “His name will be the Hope of all the world!” – hang on tightly to that Hope. Blessed Lent!

(Professor Joanne Lim shares the faith in Catechism and music in Church. She is Deputy Dean and lectures on media and society at the University of Nottingham Malaysia.)

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