Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Station 6: Veronica Helps Jesus

Christ Speaks: Can you be brave enough, my other self, to wipe my bloody face?
Where is my face, you ask?
At home whenever eyes fill up with tears,
at work when tensions rise,
on playgrounds,
in the slums, the courts, the hospitals,
the jails
– wherever suffering exists –
my face is there.
And there I look for you
to wipe away my blood and tears.

I reply: Lord, what you ask is hard. It calls for courage and self-sacrifice, and I am weak. Please, give me strength. Don’t let me run away because of fear.
Lord, live in me, act in me, love in me. And not in me alone – in all of us – so that we may reveal no more your bloody but your glorious face on earth.

Clarence Enzler,
Everyone's Way of the Cross

I have seen the face of Christ - in the aged face of a kindly black woman who answered the door when I was selling door to door in the ghetto. I prepared to give her my pitch, but she looked with such tenderness into my eyes that I could not try to make her want something she didn't need. She had looked past my salesman veneer, and in her beatific smile I was confronted with the devastating love of Christ Himself. It was as if she took attentive, simple joy in my existence, and saw me as God sees me. I mumbled something about how whatever it was I was selling wasn't something she needed, and I was sorry to have bothered her. I felt like weeping.

I have seen the face of Christ - in the tears and simple, terrible anguish of an 11-year-old kid whose best friend had been killed by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting. He could only say, over and over as if saying it would bring his friend back: "He was my friend...he was my friend..."

I have seen the face of Christ - in the tent cities of the recently homeless, formerly middle-class people who are learning to break the spell of isolation and alienation they had accepted without question in the suburbs, and are now realizing - at a terrible price - the fundamental interconnectedness we all share.

I have seen the face of Christ - in the face of a homeless man to whom I had promised an extra cup of Kool-Aid after the meal hall had shut its doors. I remembered and took him his cup. The look of gratitude in his face at having been remembered is something that broke my heart. Christ was saying "thank you." My only thought was, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you..."

I will hold the Christ-light for you,
in the night-time of your fear,
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I am convinced that the most devastating effects of sin come from inventing a "them" that is apart from "us."

There is no "them" - but there is most assuredly an "us." Every fellow human on this earth, no matter how remote geographically or ideologically, is "us."

We Americans spend our days immersed in lies - advertising is ubiquitous. On the train on the way to work, billboards beside the highway, television, radio, the web, magazines, newspapers - filled with lies designed to tell us that some product they are pitching can fill the yawning emptiness in our souls. Some of us make our living writing copy for those ads. Most of us, to one degree or another, buy into the basic idea being peddled - that the product being pitched can fill the hole in our hearts that can only be filled by the Love of God.

What do you think God thinks of the immersive BS that fills our eyes and ears and minds every day? That says if we buy a luxury car, have a kitchen that features stainless steel appliances, granite counter-tops and a professional-looking grill, have that kitchen located in a coveted section of an exclusive neighborhood (who or what is being "excluded" and why?), then we can finally find the contentment we've been aching for? (Real Estate ads, incidentally, can read like a catalog of sins, a veritable how-to book for achieving alienation.)

This whole edifice exists because, at the most fundamental level, you and I have built it - some of us directly, most of us by just going along without meaningful protest or objection. We've just gone quietly along, afraid to question (perhaps even to ourselves) the virtue of a system that is our only realistic way of making a living (mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.)

What we've built we can change.

Please pray for me, that I may find the courage to challenge the soul-impoverishing Machinery of Night. I will pray the same for you.