In the Sorrowful Mysteries we stand beneath the Cross of Jesus, coming face to face with the truth of his insistence that the Christ must suffer and die. No matter that we long to cry out, if only we had been there; we still encounter the reality of our human position and the truth that is Our Lord's. We sense the sword piercing the heart of his Mother, and pray that it may open our whole being to the agony and the power that the infinite love of Jesus in his Passion chose and endured for us.
Jesus' Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus struggles in Gethsemane to be totally obedient to the will of his Father even as darkness wraps around him. The truth of Christ who is without sin shines forth in that hour. In the agony of becoming sin for us, in his terror and anguish, his sweat falls to the ground like drops of blood. Dark Gethsemane is the scene of our compassionate surrender to the moment when our Savior chose to do the will of the Father, to suffer, to give his life for us. We are redeemed—and at a price.
Jesus Is Scourged
Jesus' scourging at the hands of the Roman soldiers is routine business for them. For Mary and for us too, the scene brings the terrible experience of seeing one whom we love dearly suffer brutal, unjust punishment. Before Jesus' suffering we become truly contrite, for it is the result of our sinning. Before his pain we feel the power of the infinite love that is far stronger than our guilt, and we turn away from sinful ways.
Jesus Is Crowned with Thorns
Jesus stands before Pilate, robed in mockery, a crown of thorns pressed cruelly around his head. He stands there humiliated, an abject failure. In the crowd which clamors for his crucifixion we see the face of our fallen human state; we hear our own bitterness of pride and arrogance. During the long moments of his degradation we recognize in the tormented face of Jesus all the splendor of his life and truth. In that suffering figure is all the beauty of humanity, the fullness of human person each one of us is created to be and called to become. Pilate's words to the crowd, Behold the man! point out the reality of our own dignity in contrast to the blindness of our pride which would tear it down.
Jesus Carries His Cross
The sight of Jesus bearing his Cross to the place of execution burns the reality of the death he faces into our minds and hearts. This man whom we love takes up the heavy burden of our sins. The Son of God walks painfully with the last of his strength from the city of his Temple to the Place of the Skull. He will be put to death as an outcast, the lowest of criminals. In his via crucis we see at last the meaning of our own: the total self-giving of Jesus must be our way too. As we follow him through the rough streets, the full meaning of his own words to his disciples becomes clear: If any one would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Jesus Dies on the Cross
The Cross of Jesus stretches him upward into the grey, sorrowing heavens and outward to embrace the world. The crucified Lord hangs upon a tree, accursed according to Jewish thought. The feet which brought the gospel of peace to men, the hands which touched and healed, are nailed down, powerless. Yet as his last cry echoes above Calgary, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, Jesus becomes the power and glory of God. Suspended between heaven and earth, he is both God and man. His is the complete gift; his is perfect manhood, perfect Sonship. Christ came from the Father to live and die for us. In his perfection we who were dead are alive again.
When Jesus saw his mother
and the disciple there whom he loved,
he said to his mother,
Woman, behold your son.
Then he said to the disciple,
Behold, your mother.
And from that moment
the disciple took her into his home.