Read the previous part of this story here.
Station III: Jesus Falls the First Time
Was God by the Holy Spirit literally Jesus’ father, and Joseph fostered or adopted Jesus? Or are Joseph and Mary his literal parents, and Jesus was later adopted by God? Whether Jesus was fostered or adopted, or not, he was born of the woman Mary. For this reason, Jesus was human—flesh and bone—who bled when beaten and who crumpled under unbearable weight, like all humans. Jesus was not the thundering and self-promoting hero we love to make legends of. Instead, he was a human who voluntarily humbled himself in obedience to his understanding of the work our Creator puts before each of us. What hands lifted Jesus back to his feet? As children of all ages, we look for our parents’ strong hands to lift and support us when we fall. Jesus likely wanted the same. What likely jerked Jesus back to his feet were the rough hands of Roman soldiers impatient to finish the day’s work.
What can I offer the first-grader who has fallen and does not understand that his parents’ hands are not there to lift him back up? What can I offer the tenth-grader who has fallen and does understand that her parents’ hands are not there to lift her back up? I say I know what it is to fall; whether tripped, pushed, or collapsed under the weight of my own tears. So does Jesus. Is to fall God’s will for you? No, I have no reason to think so. I invite you to step outside of the myth, likely of your own making, that everyone around you is evil and that you’re destined to suffer as a victim. Outside of that myth, you should be able to see that in foster care God takes the shape of strangers’ hands, willing to gently lift you back to your feet.
Stations IV: Jesus Meets His Mother
Jesus, betrayed and swept up by mob violence, meets his mother Mary. More specifically, Jesus’ sorrow meets Mary’s sorrow. He has no power or ability to turn from his sentence and comfort Mary. She has no power or ability to stop the destruction of her son and bring him home to care for his wounds. We have no record of an exchange of words. Perhaps these two said everything they needed to each other through a gentle touch, a last embrace, or locked eyes. What was Mary feeling? Along the broad spectrum of pain and suffering, what could Mary possibly be feeling? Do her eyes reveal shock through the lens of bewilderment over the crowd’s reversal toward her peaceful and popular son? Are her tears turning to bullets of despair and retaliation hoping to be chambered in a gun of revenge?
As he labored under that heavy cross, is it likely she whispered to him, “God has decreed that you be publicly humiliated and murdered at an early age to quench the jealousy of our religious leaders and satisfy the blood-thirstiness of strangers. This is God’s will, that our family be traumatized and weakened through the evil deeds of others”? No, I don’t think so either. I’m convinced God has given each of us the good gifts of body and family. So how likely is it that God would be the one to initiate the destruction of either, particularly for those who serve him most successfully?
What can I offer the ten-year-old ripped from her family, the collateral damage of another’s evil acts? What can I offer the mother whose family is torn apart, who aches to have them all safely under one roof? What can I offer the father, who has caused such pain for those he calls his family? I say that God is not the author of evil, pain, or suffering. Jesus knows this, Mary knows this, and I know this. Is your suffering the will of God? No, I have no reason to think so. As you work to step outside the myth that you are destined to forever suffer, I further advocate that you consider that God finds joy in family. Whether you are the child or the parent, I invite you down the path Jesus walked and I walk. A path where a lovingly reliable and consistent God can fix what others have destroyed.