If your dear friend told you that she was diagnosed with a terminal illness, how would you react? Perhaps you would feel shock, disbelief, confusion and denial. Such was the reaction of the disciples when Jesus told them several times during the journey to Jerusalem. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Peter would not hear of such depressing and shocking news. He rebuked Jesus, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Peter did not understand that Jesus had sovereign command of his destiny. The Passion was not something that happened to Jesus -- the Passion was the destiny that Jesus embraced.
All of us are a bit like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus speaks of his Passion, death, and Resurrection, of the gift of himself, of love for all, Peter takes Jesus aside and reproaches him. Likewise, news of suffering upsets our plans and threatens the security that we have built for ourselves. Perhaps, we think to ourselves, “A loving God would not allow such a thing to happen to my spouse, my dear friend, or my parents!” Suffering threatens our idea of what the Messiah or the Savior should be.
At every moment in today's narrative, however, it is Jesus who drives the drama forward: in the garden, where he is arrested; at his interrogation by the Temple officials; in the preposterous proceedings before Pilate; in entrusting his mother Mary to John; in declaring that his mission was finished, and in giving over his spirit.
Even today, Jesus makes his way, Via Dolorosa, through the believers and the atheists, the hopeful and the despairing, the rich and the poor, the happy families and the forlorn individuals. He is the object of scrutiny by curious onlookers, excited children, contemplative crowds. He passes through a gathering of nations, languages, and cultures, sowing on his way the question that every Christian must answer: “And who do you say that I am?” He is nailed to the cross, then placed in the tomb. The crowd disperses into the night, each person looking for the last station— the station that manifests itself in life’s many twists and turns. Tonight Jesus passes among us on the Way of the Cross— just as he does every day on the streets of the world.
Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus, who loves us so much. He is all love.