During Lent, ESN writer and InterVarsity graduate/faculty staff member Jamie Noyd shares her reflections. She invites us to meditate with her on six of the stations of the cross on which Christians have reflected over the centuries. See the post for the first Sunday of Lent here, the Second Sunday of Lent here, the third Sunday of Lent here, and the fourth Sunday of Lent here. You can explore Jamie’s other work for ESN, on the book of Ruth and the idea of pilgrimage, here.
Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
Looking on the scene of the crucifixion is painful. Roman guards drive nails through Jesus’ flesh and his body writhes in pain. You hold your breath while they raise the cross with Jesus pinned to it. As you let it out, you step away from your watch and walk around. In the midst of imminent death, the taunts of the guards and the crowd continue. Life goes on here outside of Jerusalem’s walls as people travel through.
Making your way back to Jesus’ cross, you encounter an unexpected moment. Instead of a man fighting to stay alive or just giving up, you see one compassionately speaking with his mother. Jesus is more concerned about caring for his mother’s future by setting her up with a protector, his disciple John, than any anguish he is going through. “Dear woman” he calls her as he brings together disciple and mother into a new family. Neither would be forgotten.
In the university—whether you are a student, professor, or staff—crises seem to arise each day.
- Department budgets need to be cut and staff let go
- A rewrite of a journal article is due by the end of the day—after teaching 3 classes
- Missing financial aid payments have to be tracked down or else you can’t register for next semester
Our knee-jerk reaction in these moments can be to shut out everything else until we address the crisis. That student standing outside the door or call from a friend will just have to wait for another day.
Yet, paradoxically, when I focus on my needs, they seem to never be met—and they continue to grow. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports how studies have shown that giving away time to others actually makes us feel less, not more, stressed. The self-focused perspective that besieges us in such situations is usually the opposite of what would benefit us most.
Though we may want to follow these words, it’s not easy. Fortunately, the shadow of the cross draws us into new ways of prioritizing life and relationships as we look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. I’ve had students tell me how when they have a deadline to meet and a friend contacts them with a need, they often find time to both help the friend and finish the work.
During these times we can take ourselves back to the cross and watch.
The shadow of the cross looms over a mother and a friend.
Breathing becomes labored for the crucified and for the ones he loves.
Through these breaths, come words of compassion.
Take care. Build a new family. Trust.
Centered on Jesus, we can build a community of care around us as we reach out and invite others in, even in the midst of pain.
In your schedule today, where can you touch someone else in need? Who can you invite into Jesus’ family?
Jesus, help us walk in your steps.
|Image credit: Giotto, 1266?-1337. Crucifixion, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48740 [retrieved March 27, 2017]. Original source: http://www.yorckproject.de.|