Thursday, March 4, 2010
Sixth Station--Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
(The Road to Calvary, Peter Paul Reubens, 1632)
Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Leader: O holy Christ, we worship you, we adore you;
People: A woman from the crowd gave you comfort while throngs could not.
We call her "Veronica," but in reality we don't know whether this woman is one woman or many. She is very likely an iconic figure because the story does not appear in manuscripts until the Middle Ages. Perhaps she represents all of us. While the world stood still, while people in the crowd were frozen and helpless, she stepped forward and offered the simplest of hospitality to Jesus--her veil, using it as a sweat rag. Legend has it that the outline of Jesus' holy face remained on her veil; the "vera icon," hence we named this woman Veronica. Whether this story is fact or legend, it is a reminder that when we have touched the face of Jesus, it will leave an indelible mark on our souls.
What a comfort Veronica's simple act must have been to Christ. How many times do we offer what we see as "simple hospitality," feeling it is "not enough," but to the recipient of this hospitality, it is a profound moment? As broken and in pain that Jesus must have felt, this simple act, representing other similar acts lost to the ravages of time, surely opened his heart to love. We are reminded by a single story of a woman offering her head covering to wipe Jesus' face, that in that crowd, someone--or several "someones"--nurtured him in his few remaining hours on earth.
Leader: Veronica had nothing to offer Jesus but the veil upon her head;
People: But how a simple square of cloth must have comforted him.
Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)
O Lord God, King of the Universe,
Let the legend of your Son's image remaining on Veronica's veil
indelibly mark our own souls with the power of His face.
Create Veronica in each of us,
people who are unafraid to offer unvarnished hospitality,
people who fearlessly share our food, our clothing, our homes, and our lives.
We pray that in our simple acts of sharing all that we have with others,
We will see Your countenance in the faces of others,
and others will see it in our faces, as well.
Holy and Mighty,
Holy immortal one,
Have mercy on us.