A Christian tries to follow Jesus, to get to know him better, to walk in him footsteps.
From the earliest times Christians have heard the events in the life of Jesus recorded in the gospels.
Some have been able to experience directly the places connected with him, where he was born and lived, places he visited, where he died and rose again.
Jerusalem has been a place of pilgrimage for Christians from the beginning. Many people , at great personal cost, have journeyed there, some never returned home due to disease or martyrdom.
For most people in the past such a pilgrimage was too dangerous, too expensive, or too arduous and time consuming. But the desire to be closer to the places and events in the life and death of Jesus was still there.
A practise began in different parts of Europe of creating a manger scene in churches around Christmas time to bring the event alive.
Also on Good Friday, a scene representing Calvary might be set up. In a sense we become pilgrims to Bethlehem and to Calvary without having to travel far.
From this idea developed the Stations of the Cross which can now be see on the walls of every catholic church.
The fourteen plaques represent the stages of the journey of Jesus from his trial to his death and burial. Each plaque is called a ‘station’ because at each one we stop and reflect on the event taking place and say a prayer.
Following Jesus, looking at the Stations of the Cross, reminds us of the sufferings he went through and the depth of his love for us.
Along the way he is met by various people who are moved with compassion when they see him, each of these people play their part in trying to ease his sufferings. His mother Mary walks along with him offering comfort, a man called Simon helps him carry his cross, a woman named Veronica wipes his bleeding face.
As we pray in from of the Stations of the Cross we are encouraged to discover that same compassion within themselves and to see Jesus in those who suffer.
To ease the sufferings of others for the love of God has been an inspiration to many who care for sick relatives or who enter the medical profession. May we all discover that compassion which is so needed in the world, and the will to share it to ease the burdens of others.