Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meditation on the Tenth Station of the Cross: Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garment

At the Tenth Station of the Cross, Jesus' journey to Calvary has finally ended. He is now at the foot of His Cross. Although the journey has come to an end, His humiliation and suffering are not ended. Our Lord is now submitted to the indignation of being completely stripped of his garments and placed naked on the Cross. Our Lord is always shown with a loin cloth on the Cross out of modesty and respect for Him, but the reality is that He was completely naked when they pounded the nails in.

Jesus willingly accepted this humiliation of being jeered at and mocked so that we may be forgiven, just as He had accepted all of His Suffering up to this point. This also must have been unbearably painful for Our Blessed Mother and those with her as they stood nearby. This was one more sword thrust into her heart.

From St. Francis' Way of the Cross:
When Our Savior had arrived on Calvary, He was cruelly despoiled of His garments. How painful this must have been because they adhered to His wounded and torn body, and with them parts of His bloody skin were removed! All the wounds of Jesus were renewed.
Jesus' under garments were no doubt dirty and soiled with his blood and sweat and sticking to his many wounds and cuts.  The Roman soldiers brutally tore Our Lord's clothes off of him, re-opening many wounds and causing more bleeding.  The purpose of stripping the victim of crucifixion was to cause even greater humiliation and to leave him more exposed to the elements and to biting insects.

But Jesus was showing us much more in allowing Himself to be stripped, as St. Francis says:
Jesus was despoiled of His garments that He might die possessed of nothing; how happy will I also die after laying aside my former self with all evil desires and sinful inclinations!
We, as followers of Christ, must strip ourselves of every affection for this world. As St. Francis says, we must lay aside "all evil desires and sinful inclinations." Jesus' clothes were sticking to his body and bloody wounds, and it was very painful when they were harshly torn off. Our sins and attachments to this sinful world are a much deeper part of our soul, and to remove them from who we are as a person can be very painful. This can mean losing our friends and even our family. It could mean leaving a job that we love, rejecting certain types of music and clothing, even rejecting certain foods if such food has become an addiction.

St. Paul writes in II Corinthians 6:14-17:
14Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?
16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing:
We must strip ourselves of anything and everything that comes between us and God.  This can and usually is a very painful process, and something that can take an entire lifetime to completely accomplish.  Many if not most of us do not fully complete this by the end of our lives, and that is why God in his great mercy has given us Purgatory, to burn off those last attachments we have to this dying world.

I John 2:15-17:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Our Lord told us in the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5:29-30:
29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
Certainly no one is advocating that we actually cut off parts of our body or put our eyes out, but the message is that we must be willing to detach ourselves from anyone or anything if it causes us to be separate from God.  Any attachment to this earth can result in the loss of eternal salvation.  It is that serious.  When our Lord allowed his clothes to be torn from His Body, he was showing us the way to let go of all that spiritually encumbers us.

From St. Francis' Way of the Cross:
Induce me, O Jesus, to lay aside my former self and to be renewed according to Thy will and desire. I will not spare myself, however painful this should be for me: despoiled of things temporal, of my own will, I desire to die, in order to live for Thee forever.
Everything in this world apart from God leads to death . Everything we see around us is going to pass away, and if we try to hold on to anything in this world, we will perish with it. That is why we must detach from it, and it is a painful process. We may have very few consolations along the way. It is a long, difficult road which is pictured by Jesus' journey to Calvary. Our pain might be as constant as the suffering of Jesus.

But if we are willing to let go and instead turn to the things of God, where there is true life, we will be rewarded with an eternity of happiness and peace.

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