Do we carry our Cross?
by Sanjay Pinto

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The Season of Lent is like an annual spiritual stock taking exercise. It’s a time for a change of heart, not of diet! It’s a time for introspection. It’s a time to audit our spiritual balance sheet. Do our sins outweigh our good deeds? Does our ego envelop our mind like a smokescreen, blocking heavenly grace from filling our life?  It’s imperative to view the supreme sacrifice of Jesus at the 14 stations of the cross through the prism of our daily life and its challenges.

The 1st Station – Jesus is condemned to death.

How often do we do a Pontius Pilate to others? How often do we take politically correct decisions to save our skin? Everytime we refuse to stand up for the persecuted, the underdog, the meek and the poor, we wash our hands off our call as Christians.

The 2nd Station – Jesus is made to carry the cross

Do we carry our cross with a fraction of that spirit? Or do we whine and wince and crumble under the weight of our worries? We respond better to heat rather than light. Which is why pain is God’s most powerful megaphone in our lives. Is Jesus the spare wheel that we think of only when we are in trouble or the steering wheel that takes us to our destination?

The 3rd Station – Jesus falls the first time

How often do we flinch in the face of trouble? How often do turn our backs and retrace our steps at the first hint of a challenge? It could be an accident victim on the road or a patient in the hospital who needs blood or a donation to survive or a family rendered homeless during a natural disaster. Do we spontaneously move out of our comfort zone? Do the words of Jesus: “whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me” ring in our ears?

The 4th Station – Jesus meets his mother.

A mother’s love can never be explained. Only experienced. Do we observe the commandment to honour our father and mother? Or do we take them for granted when we grow up? Or view them as a burden when they are old? Why do we have parents languishing in Old Age Homes and children who thrive abroad?

The 5th Station – Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross.

Whether it’s office politics or parish gossip or club chatter, do we say it like it is? Or do we wear masks? Do we give credit where it’s due? Or are we quick to pass the buck and indulge in a blame game?

The 6th Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Do we wipe the misery off the faces of people we know and don’t know? Do we do charity without ulterior motives? Or do we secretly desire something in return? 80G Income Tax Exemption or Social Service Awards or  Media Reports or  a Selfie or Facebook Likes?

The 7th Station – Jesus falls the second time.

Life gives us retakes and second chances. Do we ever learn from our mistakes and seek God’s forgiveness? Or do we give in to the lure of Satan that screams:”Lead me not into temptation, I can find the way myself!” Is Confession just a ritual during Lent? When we say “Peace Be With You” during Mass, do we really mean it? Do we think of our enemies or those we have hurt or are we content with the formality of turning to our left and right with folded hands towards our friends or strangers in Church?

The 8th Station – Women in Jerusalem weep for Jesus.

Do we have the courage and the grace to own up when we are wrong? Or do we find it more convenient to look for scapegoats? Are we kind to a fault or do we wait for half a chance to pounce on our subordinates or employees or juniors? Do we downplay our gaffes and magnify the bloopers of others?

The 9th Station – Jesus falls the third time.

 In the toss up between Fate and Faith, what’s our score? Do you know that the term “fear not” appears 365 times in the Bible? Faith is not believing that God can but that he will. In moments of despair, do we trust in God to carry us through? Or do we resign ourselves to our fate? Do we sing “You Raise Me Up” or “Kay Sera Sera”?

The 10th Station – Jesus is stripped off his garments

In this day and age, being ourselves is a 24 hour job. But do we hide behind our cloaks and masks? Like the song “Sound of Silence”…people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening…do we acknowledge or stifle that still voice within us called our conscience?

The 11th Station – Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Words are like sped arrows. Are we quick to lose our temper at the slighest provocation? Every time we act in anger, we drive a nail into someone. Even if it is removed, the scars will remain. Do we let bygones be bygones or do we seek revenge? Do we turn the other cheek or do we nurture grudges and wait to plant that Judas Kiss?

The 12th Station – Jesus dies on the cross

What’s in it for me?’ That’s a common refrain or at least a thought in most of what we do. For the smallest gesture or deed, we expect awards, titles and adulation. Even to vote in elections, we expect something in return. Jesus endured unimaginable pain and suffering and gave up his life for us. Are we conscious of this supreme sacrifice and his amazing grace everyday? Or is it a fleeting memory and a mere annual feature in the Lenten Season and during the Way Of The Cross?

The 13th Station – Jesus is taken down from the cross

Jesus fulfilled God’s plan. His word is a bond. His faithful promises are our armour and protection. Do we keep our word? Or do we escape liability, twist facts, play with semantics and harp on shades of grey?

The 14th Station – Jesus is placed in the tomb.

As Clarence Hall said: “You can put truth in a grave but it won’t stay there.” How do we view death? As the end? As the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning? We are so caught up in this materialistic world that we forget what treasures await us in heaven. How seriously do we take our Heavenly Father’s  ultimate promise: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son. Whoever believes in him shall have everlasting life.” For the resurrection, we need to renew our faith. That is always a work in progress.

On a parting note in the run up to elections in the country…Do we realise that Jesus was the first Aam Admi to work miracles – from the water into wine at Cana, from 5 loaves and 2 fish to the biggest buffet feast in the history of humankind. His Z Plus security had just 1 weapon – Love. His manifesto had just 1 line: “Ask and You Shall Receive.” His Party Application had just 1 condition: ‘Pray’ Pal! May we always cast our vote for 1 symbol – the Holy Cross.

(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate, Columnist, Author & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)

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