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Walking the Way of Sorrows
Stations of the Cross
By Katerina Katsarka Whitley
Church Publishing IncorporatedCopyright © 2013Katerina Katsarka Whitley
All rights reserved.
Jesus Is Condemned to Death
As seen by the arresting soldier
Jesus Is Condemned to Death
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Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. John 19:1–2.
Surprised at feeling no resistance from the prisoner, I turned to look at him but, like a fool, happened to glance at his eyes.
How I wish I hadn't done that. How I wish I hadn't seen his eyes. I had to turn away from him. We Romans are a hard lot, but I could not stand to look at his face. And don't you dare think me soft! I have brought many criminals before Pilate in my year here in this dump called Jerusalem and didn't flinch for a moment when I did it. I felt satisfaction when Pilate's meanness hit at them and his disdain made them want to crawl away. But this prisoner had me baffled from the start. I dragged him into the praetorium's main hall and felt no resistance from him. It was as if he was coming with me willingly, but how can this be? Look at him. Even with that ridiculous crown of thorns on his head, there is nothing of the martyr in him. Why isn't he resisting me? It would make it so much easier on me if he did.
I am so used to their hatred, it slips right off me, leaves me untouched. I am so used to their anger and the arrogance of the Jews who look at us as if we are worms—even when we lord it over them—that I have learned to spit it right back at them. But this one.... The strange thing is that he too is a Jew, yet there is no arrogance in him. This is the funny thing, scary, to tell you the truth: I heard someone whisper that he really is a king in disguise. Oh, yeah, I said, that will really go over well with Pilate. And Tiberius will love it! Those bastards in the palace kill each other for a glance—imagine hearing that a Jew is a secret king.
So I laughed it off. What else could I have done? But then the fates cursed me, and I turned and looked at the prisoner's face to see why he was making it easy for me to drag him to Pilate—that's all. He was exhausted by then. I could tell he had been up all night, dragged from one hypocrite to the other—that snake Caiaphas who sent him to Pilate, who then sent him to that fox Herod, and now here he is again, standing before the hyena, Pilate. I hate all of them for lording it over us when we do all the work, weslave to make them rich, to keep them powerful. I hate them. So when I turned around to look at the prisoner—Jesus, they call him—I expected to see the same hatred in him. I hadn't heard anything bad about the man, so I figured he must really be furious to be treated so roughly. And that was my mistake. I turned, and he was looking full at me. His eyes, huge and sad, stayed on me, and at that moment, with a sharp pain that stopped my breath, I remembered my mother's eyes the first time she saw me kick another child. Love and sadness, I thought, love and sadness. I wanted to turn away, to stop looking at him, but he wouldn't let me. He urged his love on me, he urged it, I tell you. I wanted to kick him then, I couldn't stand it. But I pushed him ahead of me as rough as I could, and he stumbled for a moment but didn't fall. He turned one more time and looked at me, full in the eyes as before and, I'm ashamed to say, he saw my tears. I said without speaking, "It's not you, it's my mother," but he seemed to hear me clearly, and then he continued into the cold hall and stood quietly before Pilate.
The fates took over again and made me stare from him to Pilate, and what I saw didn't make me feel good about my people. There are times I hate that I am a Roman and a soldier, and then I hate Pilate all the more. Look at him now. Sitting there like some man of great worth passing judgment on this dignified Jew whose eyes are loving like a mother's. Gods of the Pantheon, how I hate what we are doing.
But look at his own people, look at them! They are out for blood. So what makes them different from us? Hatred is hatred no matter who is feeling it, right? Hey, that's good. My old tutor's words are rushing back to me after such a long time. What is this? Why am I suddenly remembering the only two good people in my life—my mother and my tutor? What is causing all this? Is it the prisoner? What is it about him, what is it?
Maybe that young man—the one with tears in his eyes—maybe he knows. He must be one of his followers. They say the prisoner had many friends, devoted followers. Where are the creatures now?
I approach the weeping young man, but he turns away. He never takes his eyes off the man Jesus; he acts as if he'll die if he loses sight of him, even for a minute. "Hey," I whisper, "hey there, you Jew. What is it about your friend, what is it that makes him so calm, so self-possessed?"
"He's the only one here who is not afraid," the man whispers, but he breaks down sobbing, and I can't afford to talk to him again. Pilate is looking at me. I would like to make a rude gesture, but I'm not ready to die.
I have to find out what happens next. Pilate, the hyena with red eyes, is playing his favorite game again. I have heard him rant and rave against the Jews, but look, see how he's falling into their hands to do the bidding of the high priests who fill his pockets with their gold, stolen from their own people? Damn them, damn them all.
What is it about the prisoner? What? His friend must be right. All of us are trembling with fear inside, no matter that we Romans hold the whip and the power. He is the only one who is not afraid. What do I do now?
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, you faced humiliation and torture without complaining.
Be with us in the hours of trial.
Lord Jesus Christ, you faced arrest and death without fear.
Be with all those who are afraid today.
Be with all those who are tortured and treated unjustly in many parts of the world.
Lord Jesus Christ, as on the day of your arrest and flogging, much evil against the innocent is perpetrated by people who think they are doing God's will.
Forgive them and us for our sin.
Kyrie eleison.CHAPTER 2
Jesus Takes Up His Cross
As seen by a woman passing by
Jesus Takes Up His Cross
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"Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" [The lawyer] said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Excerpt from Luke 10:25–37
When I saw him with that cross on his back, I almost dropped the baby. This is what it comes to, I thought—our life is for nothing after all. This warm, sweet-smelling baby in my arms, this tender little helpless thing I'm holding, one day may end up like him. Carrying a cross. Oh, God of Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, what fate awaits all our sons in this occupied land?
It's not even my baby—it's my daughter's. But she died giving birth, so here I am learning to mother a little one again. When I saw the condemned man pass by my door, alone and burdened, blood running down his face, a cruel crown of thorns on his hair, I held on to the baby and ran outside. All I could think of was—someone should be near him at a time like this. With the Romans' thirst for blood, punishing us just for being Jews, I didn't ask, "What has the man done to deserve this?" I've h
Excerpted from Walking the Way of Sorrows by Katerina Katsarka Whitley. Copyright © 2013 by Katerina Katsarka Whitley. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
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