The 2015 Good Friday Saskatoon Way of the Cross Prayer Walk is coordinated by the Office for Justice and Peace, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. For additional details, contact 306-242-1500 or justpeace [at] saskatoonrcdiocese [dot] com.
Between each station, as we follow the cross we sing and pray. Please give prayerful thought to the reflections offered by each group, and offer your own prayers for the needs of the world, that God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
Station 1: Jesus on the Mount of Olives
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ (Luke 22:39-46)
Reflection by Peter Oliver (Micah Mission)
Stop. Simply stop and pray.
“Jesus withdrew from them a stone’s throw, knelt down and prayed.”
At this moment prisoners are praying in cells all over the world. Some pray to have their innocence recognized, others pray for mercy, others pray with groans and tears because they know not what to pray for or who to pray to.
Simply stop and pray – earnestly.
Victims of crime are praying even now, in our land and all over the world. Their blood falls to the ground, their eyes search for hope and their lips cry out for help.
Simply stop, stop and pray.
How tempting it is to sleep, the sleep of grief. How tempting it is to shut our eyes – distract ourselves with the noise of our toys and trinkets and trifles and to ignore, ignore, ignore the one who call us to pray.
Let us pray together:
Jesus, transform our fickle heart and fill us with courage. Arose us from our sleep. Let us hear your prayers in the prayers of those who seek your mercy and those who seek your healing and help. And Lord, if it is your will, do it now.
Station 2: Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ (Luke 22:47-48)
Reflection by the Rev Deb Walker (Mayfair United Church). Read by Deborah Larmour.
I am a woman of privilege. I enjoy a life of safety and security. I am able to take for granted that my property and my household will remain free from harm on any given day. Like my Roman sisters more than 2,000 years ago – I belong to the dominant ruling class, and therefore my daily life seems insulated from the abuse of poverty and racism. I do not fear going missing, nor does my family constantly worry for my well-being.
There have always been those ignored by justice. Ignored by the powers of the day – be they military, political, economic, or social systems that treat citizens of this land with favour or abuse.
Indigenous women and girls are being destroyed and betrayed daily by systems of power that ignore the reality of their daily ordeals. They experience marginalization in every direction: education, economy, health care, employment and, justice, often lacking basic safety when in care, they are vulnerable and often victimized. Women and girls go missing, their sons and brothers incarcerated and due to tragic circumstances their children are taken away.
We betray the One, who comes to heal and free us, each time we participate in systems of destruction, rather than processes of love. Jesus was the One to bridge the great divides that keep us from each other.
This betrayal of our sisters creates a brokenness and betrayal from which we cannot hide. Jesus calls us to stare down
…selfish individualism that erodes human solidarity,
…the concentration of wealth and power without regard for the common good;
the toxins of all forms of bigotry;
the degradation of the blessedness of human bodies and human desires through sexual exploitation;
the delusion of unchecked progress and limitless growth that threatens our home, the earth,
the covert despair that lulls many into numb complicity with all systems of domination. *
We must sing our lament and repentance as we remember the ongoing betrayal of Indigenous women and girls who are missing and murdered.
* taken from a Song of Faith, A Statement of Faith of The United Church of Canada
Station 3: Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’ (Luke 22:66-71)
Reflection by Wyndham Thiessen (L’Arche)
Jesus stands before the Sanhedrin and is asked to give an account of himself. Who are you? Why do you deserve to live? The chief priests question him, and they mock him, for they fail to see Jesus for who he really is: the Son of God, Creator and Lover of humanity. They fail to see Jesus for who he is, and they reject him.
People with intellectual disabilities often stand in the place where Jesus stood, having to give an account of themselves, facing similar questions. Who are you? Why do you deserve to live? Our world struggles to see the value of people with disabilities. Our world struggles to see that all people have dignity, that all people have inherent worth, that each person is a beautiful son or daughter of the God who loves us and created us all.
This Easter season, may we have eyes to see the dignity of each person.
Station 4: Peter denies Jesus
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)
Reflection by Michael Maclean for Sanctuary Saskatoon
Who do we deny when we deny Jesus?
We deny ourselves when we deny Jesus. I think this denial takes many forms and shapes, be it dis-owning ourselves or denying ourselves though body modifications, or make-up, or denying our sexuality given as a good gift from a perfect and loving creator. As Peter denied Jesus he was denying himself and his true self.
In what ways do we deny Jesus today? Is our community ready to accept that we have a major diversity within our congregations today? Are we willing to love, no matter what? Can our children speak freely of the same sex attraction they experience? Will they stay quiet to avoid being marginalized? Do we give them a reason to stay with the congregation, or do we push them further away?
We have all been a Peter in some way.
Why do I weep bitterly? I am called to love my neighbour, but I have betrayed them by disassociating myself from them. I am scared that someone will know that I’m friends with someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. I have failed to love, support and respect my brother, my sister, my friend, my family.
What does it mean to fully embrace our relationship with Jesus and how does that shape who we are?
To be fully human (as God intends us to be) we need to embrace who God made us to be. Male, Female, intersex, non-binary gendered, black, white, brown, pink, blue, homosexual, transgendered, bi-sexual, all things and every other special way that God made us. In the words of the Psalmist: “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” We have been made good, indeed very good, in the eyes of our God. To deny any of the goodness means to be like Peter and to deny Jesus.
Peter, you were scared. Jesus, we are scared. Help us to love every single person we encounter, without examining if they are different than us. Just help us accept, and love.
Station 5: Jesus is judged by Pilate
Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’ Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. (Luke 23:13-25)
Reflection by Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Like Pilate, we too, often fail to take what we know to be the right course of action. We are told in Matthew’s Gospel that Pilate took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying that he would not be responsible for Jesus’ death. We too sometimes wash our hands of our responsibility to our communities, to our care of one another and of the earth.
We can change this. We can face our fear of speaking out against injustice and act in ways that support positive and responsible stewardship of Creation for the common good.
Loving Jesus, forgive us for the times we have washed our hands of our responsibilities because of apathy or self-interest or fear of what others will say. Help us to do our part through simple actions such as reducing consumption, minimizing waste, supporting local producers and small-scale farmers through our choices of what we buy. Help us to remember that we do have choices, and give us courage to always choose to act for the common good.
Station 6: Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him. (Luke 22:63-65)
And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. (John 19:2-3)
Reflection by Darren Dahl (Prairie Centre for Ecumenism)
O Holy Martyrs, you are our contemporaries: Help us to remember our brother Tertullian who proclaimed that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apology, 50). Can we even imagine what it might mean to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Christians of our time? Could we fathom the inconvenience? Might we begin, even here, to understand that Christianity is a politics? Can we begin to perceive that the memory of Messiah Jesus is dangerous?
It is right there, at the beginning of our story. And the end.
O Holy Martyrs, you are our contemporaries: Help us to remember that not so long ago we gathered with warm hearts around a manger to proclaim Jesus as Christ and, therefore, King, Lord, and Ruler of All. Beneath our Christmas glow, though perhaps we knew it not, we gave our voices to a radical political pronouncement: one day, this baby would be crowned as King; one day all knees will bow to this One, in heaven and on earth.
But we did not know the nature of his crown.
Pilate knew. And the soldiers knew. They dressed him up in the colors of royalty and they punctured him as deeply as they mocked him. In their very ignorance and fear they nevertheless spoke a truth that often alludes us. With thorns they crowned him King.
From manger to cross the Word is made flesh and a new reality is revealed. A new way of being is disclosed. A new centre of power is made known. A power made perfect in the weakness of service, sacrifice, and self-giving. A community gathered around the hard work of loving enemies and speaking truth, even to friends.
Lord of Hosts, Crucified God, we do not seek crowns for ourselves. Only faith and courage to follow those who cast their crowns before you.
Station 7: Jesus takes up the cross
After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:20)
Reflection by Couples for Christ
In so many countries of the world, women, men and children are mocked, despised, persecuted and marginalized. God created us to live with love and compassion for all. God’s love is clearly revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and in his unconditional love and acceptance of everyone. Perhaps these days, when we are tempted to give in to fear about people who come from other places and who are different than we are, we should consider the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus and try to live up to his teaching that we should love one another as he loves us.
Station 8: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross
As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
Reflection by Rev Ron Bestvater (Lutheran Ministry in Hospitals of Saskatoon, formerly The Lutheran Care Society)
At this moment, terror is overcome by compassion. The cruelty of the crucifiers, the pressure of the crowd, the spectre of further mistreatment: our fears are stirred by that terrible word “seized.” Our hesitance to respond to injustice, our reluctance to get involved with suffering, our shyness to commit to Christ in front of the crowd—all encompassed in that word “laid on him.” If it were not for the act of God in my baptism in which the cross was laid upon me, would I pick up the cross to carry it behind Jesus? My baptism clarifies this moment: as I could not volunteer to be baptized, so I can not volunteer for any aspect of discipleship. Whether in high office or church service or daily vocation, contingency becomes necessity and necessity becomes acceptance and acceptance becomes liberation and liberation becomes life, the blessed life of peace with God through Jesus Christ my Lord—our Lord. What seemed like an intersection of cruel fate with innocent plans was, in the hands of The Father’s love, Simon’s beginning in discipleship and the life of the faith in the church. The moment of terror becomes the moment of salvation in the love of God.
This hidden aspect of justice and peace is one dimension of hospital chaplaincy. We like Luke bear witness to it when spouses or family members or good friends have the cross of the suffering of the one they love laid upon them, when the fear of what might be coming for them seizes them. We testify to it when sudden, serious suffering intersects mercilessly with the innocent plans of the day, and the terror of what is coming grips the heart. We stand in the stead sometimes too, when the suffering of those to whom we minister invades our own souls and bodies, and we wonder about the justice of God, the peace of God, even the presence of God. But O sweet communion with Christ! O blessed conversing with Christ in this prayer of groaning! O burden that is light and yoke that is conformed to my exact need! For this cross laid upon Simon of Cyrene and upon all the baptized calls me to that vocation which calls forth from me all that I am and can be. And as I come to know this faith, this life, this way, carrying this cross following after my Lord becomes my life, and my deepest joy.
Station 9: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ (Luke 23:27-31)
Reflection by NASHI
Jesus has been silent up to now but when he saw the women weeping he stops & speaks to them – knowing that others were listening too.
And so we too stop and listen.
Jesus tells us not to weep for him but for ourselves – for our sins. We are to look at what is happening in our world today and ask ourselves “How are we measuring up as church”? Are we in solidarity with those who work toward ending enslavement, torture, or abuse of any kind? Or are we standing by weeping for those who are injured or who loss their lives; standing… watching… weeping… and doing nothing?
Station 10: Jesus is crucified
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. … When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ (Luke 23:33,47)
Reflection by the Roman Catholic Diocesan Justice & Peace Commission
Jesus was a man of peace. Throughout his short life he practiced and preached a peaceful resolution of conflict. Yet he was put to death in a most violent and horrific way by being tortured and then crucified, that is, being nailed to a cross and suffering for hours until he expired.
If we had been present at the Crucifixion, what would we have done? Would we have attempted to intervene or at least to protest this outrage, or would we have remained silent in the face of likely punishment? Or, like one of the criminals who were crucified with Jesus, would we be in solidarity with an innocent Jesus? Or like the centurion, would we have waited until Jesus was dead, and then recognize Jesus’ innocence?
And what do we do when we see Jesus crucified today? The list of those crucified is long but would include addicts; criminals; people whose sexual orientation differs from the mainstream; First Nations people who were traumatized by colonialism; poor people; and the victims of war everywhere, especially in Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Palestine. Do we remain silent and simply observe these outrages? Or do we speak out for these people and demand justice for them?
The answer to that that last question must be yes. We are called to do what Jesus would have done.
Station 11: Jesus promises his Kingdom to the good thief
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. …
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:33-34,39-43)
Reflection by Roberta Fehr (Equal Justice for All)
As you stand here today can you recall one vulnerable person you have meet and what if anything did you do for them? If you said nothing then ask yourself why that is. We have so many vulnerable people that live in our community and get overlooked or avoided as if they have a contagious disease. We tend to close our eyes because what we don’t want to see cannot affect us or so we believe. This too happened in Jesus’ time. But the time for closing our eyes and attention away from the problem is done. Our country was built on people helping people, communities helping communities.
A barn would have never gotten built without the help of neighbours. But somewhere along the way we have lost our caring and compassion for one another. It was replaced with us becoming selfish and sometimes even cruel to the ones that needed our help the most. We have forgotten that, for some people, life is not always kind to others like our neighbours, family and friends. With our world flooded with cancer and other severe health concerns, anyone of us can face being vulnerable.
If we ignore the situation it will never get better. If we always think that — if we are not part of the problem — then why should we be a part of the solution? But being part of the human race is like a ripple in a pond. It starts off being very small but then it grows creating other ripples in the water that spans outward. Communities are also like that what touches one does touch us all. Looking after vulnerable people before ourselves is very rewarding and tells people they are not alone.
Being one who has sat on both sides of the fence by helping the most vulnerable people in our society to being vulnerable myself as I was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. I understand the value of giving because when we need that giving to come full circle it means more then you can say. Instead of being part of the ME generation let us move forward today and become the WE generation.
Station 12: Jesus on the cross, his mother and his disciple
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:25b-27)
Reflection by Fr. Mick Fleming (Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish)
In the final moments of his life, Jesus is at work still teaching us that we are not an island unto our selves but called to be a community of brother and sisters rooted in compassion and care for one another, especially the poor and broken of our world.
In one of the most touching moments in a time of tragic suffering, Jesus entrusts his mother Mary and the beloved disciple into each others care.
Even as his body cried out in agony Jesus looks with love upon his mother and entrusts her with the responsibility of being the Mother of his church. With her guidance, we her children have been given to each other in the church for sharing love and knowing peace.
It is this love, that as Christians we are called to seek justice for all who suffer injustice, as his Body, we are called to be light for those who walk in darkness and hope for those who live in despair, and as a loving community we are called to be the healing hands of Jesus for those wounded by the many forms of violence in our communities.
As we continue our Way of the Cross, let us offer thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus’ love present among, a love that binds us together as sisters and brothers with the affections of Mary our mother and the beloved disciple, our brother.
Station 13: Jesus dies on the cross
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
Please observe a time of silent reflection.
Station 14: Jesus is placed in the tomb
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. (Luke 23:50-54)
Reflection by the Church Leaders of Saskatoon
We remember Joseph of Arimathea as the rich man who arranged for the burial of Jesus. Following the crucifixion, this secret disciple went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body so that he could give Jesus a proper burial. Pilate granted the request, and Joseph was allowed to take the body down from the cross, wrap it in fine linen, and place it in a new tomb – a cave that was probably intended for his own final resting place.
But do we remember that Joseph of Arimathea was also a member of the council? He was among the leaders who called for the death of Jesus. He was there with them when they argued with Pilate who wanted to release him because he had done nothing wrong. When the crowd cried out, “Crucify him!” we don’t know what Joseph was doing or saying. Maybe he was trying to object. Maybe he was struggling to know what to say. Maybe he was silent.
But the Gospel of Luke tells us that although he was a member of the council, Joseph had not agreed to their plan and action.
Like Joseph, we also are “members of the council.” We are citizens of a country, members of a human community, and people with voices and votes when issues of justice are being decided in our councils, our governments, and our courts. How often are decisions made that fail to do justice, or even do great harm, particularly to the most vulnerable within our society? How often are we complicit in those decisions because we do not speak out, because we do not know what to say?
Some of us may have in mind the recent Supreme Court decision on physician-assisted suicide. Some may think of cuts to prison chaplaincy services, or deplorable conditions in some publicly-funded nursing homes, or the continuing failure to act regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
How might the example of Joseph of Arimathea give us strength to respond when the least among us have already been crucified? How might we use our resources and our efforts to care for them now in the hope of resurrection?
Pause to sing
God of grace and power, give us wisdom when issues of justice are being considered and debated in our society. Give us courage to speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable. Give us strength to act, offering our resources and efforts for those who are poor, oppressed, or forgotten. Give us hope to trust in your promise of new life and the world as it should be. With Joseph of Arimathea, we are waiting expectantly for the fullness of your reign on earth. Amen.
Let us now join in saying, in our own language, the prayer our Lord taught us. Our Father …
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and grant you peace. Amen.