Seventh Station--Jesus Falls a Second Time

(From the Stations of the Cross at St. John the Baptist Church, Bennington, VT)

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time

Leader: O holy Christ, we worship you, we adore you;
People: Even with Simon assisting you in your burden you weakened and fell again.

Although the burden of carrying his cross had been lifted from him, Jesus surely continued to weaken as he traveled the road to Golgotha. The sun rose higher in the sky and the temperature climbed. He was dehydrated and weak from loss of blood and body fluids. The crowds surely grew, and the way became narrower and narrower from the throngs of curious onlookers. The desire to stop--to rest--to simply lie down and not get up--must have been overpowering.

Once fallen, it is hard to imagine any shred of desire to want to rise again. The detail of soldiers assigned to accompany him very likely feared he would die before reaching his crucifixion site, and they also very likely feared punishment for themselves if he died before sentence was carried out. In many renditions of the Stations, Jesus is shown being cruelly whipped by one of his tormentors, often with a closed hand and with the butt of the whip wielded like a club. By this time they were probably beating him as much out of their own fear that they would be unable to fulfill the sentence as carried out, rather than beating him out of spite or to punish. Hurting others as a consequence of our own fear is as old as humankind itself.

Leader: As Jesus stumbled and fell again,
People: His tormentors began feeling themselves falling from the weight of their fears.

Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)

Heavenly Father,
The physical falling of Jesus on the road to Golgotha
is a reminder of many falls that will happen today.
Someone in the world is falling from starvation and hunger.
Someone is falling from domestic abuse.
Someone is falling from a random act of violence.
Someone is falling because of their color, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
But it doesn't end there.
The hands that touch them will not help them up, nor dust them off;
they will beat them further, because of fear.
Be with these people on this day, Lord
and speak to the hearts of both the tormented and the tormentor.

People: Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy immortal one,
Have mercy on us.