Lenten Journey: The Sorrowful Mysteries

As we start Lent, I’m drawn to reflect on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. There are so many ways to meditate on these mysteries: how Jesus must have suffered tremendously, or that through our sins we have caused his suffering.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt 16: 24)

But one comforting way to pray is to reflect on how, while Jesus asks us to take up our crosses and follow him, we do not walk alone. “I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20)

First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 41-42)

Israel, stone, rock of agony

In the First Sorrowful Mystery, we meet Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Though in agony about what he knows is to come, Jesus smoothes the rocks for us. He sits with us throughout the night as we live our own agony, disappointed in the past and worried about the future. While he wants us to trust in him, he never tells us that our fears and sufferings are nothing compared to what he suffered. He wants us to know that he will not fall asleep like the disciples and assures us that he is with us always.

Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. (John 19:1)

Jesus received undeserved lashes for our sins. He did so willingly and obediently. Despite the pain that the scourging caused him, he shields us from eternal lashes. He holds us forever in his arms, covering us like a parent protecting his child.

Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!”(Mark 15:17-18)

The crown of thorns was really more like a helmet of piercing, unyielding spikes. But Jesus transforms our crown of thorns into a heavenly tiara waiting for us. The worldly robes, however rich we think they are, cannot compare to the pure white garments that he has prepared for us in his kingdom. Through our baptism, we all become priests, prophets and kings. But our kingship is not of this world. Through Christ’s example, we see a king who is first a servant to all.

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

Via Dolorosa - Aaron carrying crossAs they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. (Matt 27:32)

Jesus stumbled and fell carrying his cross, assisted only by Simon of Cyrene. He knows all too well how heavy a cross can be. And yet, we are still called to carry our crosses. But, while Jesus struggled under the weight of an unjust burden, he is there with us as we carry ours. He wants us to turn to him, to ask for his help. And in doing so, our cross becomes lighter. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him. (Luke 23:33)

On the cross, Jesus looks down on us with love, mercy and compassion. We only have to look up into his eyes to see and understand. The blood that flows from his side transforms into golden rays, purifying us beyond human ability. The water that gushes from his side becomes drops of perfect diamonds, adorning us in a heavenly glow incomparable to any human design.

And may we all be forever grateful!

Photos: (1) Stone of Agony, Israel, (2) Via Via Dolorosa, Israel


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