The Fifth Station: Laying Aside Vanity, Walking Humbly
March 16, 2010 Comments Off on The Fifth Station: Laying Aside Vanity, Walking Humbly
I have a particular fascination with the study of Christology and what Jesus knew about his divine nature and when he discovered it. Annually I pour through books like Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord Series and Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel The Last Temptation of Christ to supplement my reflections on the Gospel readings to try and further understand the humanity of my Christ.
It would be silly (bordering on profane) to compare Jesus’ journey to the cross with anything I’ve even remotely experienced in the way of anticipating some dreaded appointment, like going to the dentist or having to watch each of my parents pass through this vale of tears. How long has Jesus known every single thing which is about to happen to him and what about the agony he must be suffering anticipating these eventualities every single step of the way! Then, to make matters worse, here comes the beginning of the end which starts with an absolute humiliation: he is to be stripped bare, not only in front of a crowd of people watching, but in front of his friends and his own mother. He will hang for the next three hours completely naked in front of each of them and not only have to allow himself to die but also keep in check the power he has to call down angels to aid him or ask the earth to open and swallow those who have harmed him. Instead he thinks of them gently and kindly, instead he forgives them and he asks forgiveness for them, not God’s wrath. (I know how upset I get when someone cuts in front of me in a line somewhere so I know what I would have done.)
Jesus is about to offer himself completely to God. Jesus is about to become the literal sacrificial animal in propitiation for our sins so that you, so that I, can live a life free from the bondage of The Law, free to experience God’s boundless love and free to be reconciled back to our filial relationship with the creator and sustainer of the universe. I believe one of the things this station in The Way of the Cross teaches us is that we must make ourselves bare, even unto humiliation, in order to offer the perfect sacrifice of ourselves to God. Not just a cutesy head bob hello in the aisle but a profound genuflection before seating ourselves in the comfort of God’s presence. We must be willing to lay aside every vanity, every self-deceit and say, “moles and all, in the high noon, the brightest illumination of the day, here I am God, and I know you love me now more than ever for making myself available to you. ‘Not my will, God, but yours be done.’” I’ll tell you … I’m so often afraid to do this myself for fear of what God’s going to ask of me in return and I sometimes just don’t know if I have it in me to say “you can count on me”. But I hope to always say, “Just like moons and like suns / With the certainty of tides / Just like hopes springing high / Still I’ll rise” because “God has told [us] what is good, and this is what God requires of [us]: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [our] God.”