THE FIVE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES
Driving in Kenya is quite an adventure, of which I have had many. I should probably write about “Masaibu ya Kadudu; (Kadudu Advetures)”. We spend many hours on the road. It ought to be boring, just sitting behind the wheel waiting for the car in front of you to move a metre, so you can move too. Then the “exciting” part of overlapping drivers, crazy overtakers, outright rude honkers, the one who never gives way ever, and the kind ones who request to be given way or always give way. In the recent past, I have discovered a favourite pass time. Prayer and Meditation. Did you know that even after five decades of a rosary there is a high likelihood you will still be on the road waiting for the guy in front to move? I have meditated a lot, on the mysteries of the rosary of late. I have learnt that the rosary decades are our day to day lives. Whent they say He walked where we walk, He stood where we stand and He understands, it is because indeed He did, but in a more profound and magnified way.
I begin with the Sorrowful Mysteries. This are mysteries usually prayed on Tuesday and Friday.
The First Sorrowful Mystery: – Agony of Christ Jesus in the Garden.
Every time I say a mystery, I like thinking of the context. Here Christ is alone in the garden of Gethsemane. The friends he requested to stay with him for an hour already fell asleep. He is in deep sorrow, he knows the crucifixion is coming, he knows he will be betrayed by those he loves, he will be denied three times by Peter, the disciple he loved the most will run away leaving his tunic behind in a bid to escape recognition, he will be flogged, he will be made to carry a heavy cross, he will be crucified on it. We all go through agonizing moments, when life has beat us properly and we no longer have the energy to take that next step, when our friends have all abandoned us in our lowest, when those so close to us denounce us and jeer from the side line enjoying our down fall, when we turn to God and cry to him, wishing Him to take away the cup of agony. When we know that the tunnel we must pass is dark, but we must walk it. Take for example being diagnosed with Cancer, or any terminal illness. Sometimes it seems like the end. We know Chemotherapy, Radio Therapy, surgery etc will eat us up, financially, emotionally, spiritually. We agonize wishing it away. Think of broken relationships, think of shattered dreams, when we know we must let go. We so identify with Christ. But as we pray for removal of the cup, how I wish that we do not forget that it is God’s will that must be done. Not ours. He may not remove the cup, but He will give us the strength to drink it.
The Second Sorrowful Mystery: – Scourging at the Pillar
Christ has been brought to Pilate. Pilate finds no fault, but he orders that he be flogged. How many times do we get flogged; emotionally by being accused falsely, characterwise when people we love speak evil of us behind our backs, when we are told we are not good enough, we are not beautiful enough, we do not know, we are foolish, we are ugly… physically when we stay in abusive relationships? How many times do we feel beaten by those who we cherish? How many times do we hear things about us and marvel at how creative people can be? Why do we relish thoughts of flogging others? Why do we derive joy in beating others? Shaming them? Belittling, assassinating their character? Denying them what they truly deserve? Looking down upon others? What value do we add to who we are when we lessen the value of others?
Jesus was flogged, even though he was without fault. Many times we will be flogged, even though we will be without fault. The grace we wished for during our agony will see us through the flogging. We will persevere, we will win eventually, but not before crucifixion.
The third sorrowful Mystery: – The Crowning with thorns
At our lowest, we discover we have very many enemies. Christ’s passion was His lowest moment. It came immediately after his triumphant entry. He was a King, now he was a nobody, being jeered and mocked and crowned with thorns in mockery. Everyone wants Him crucified. Where are those who dined with Him? Those who walked many miles to eat from his wisdom? Those who sung Hossana and paved His way with leaves as He entered Jerusalem? None of them spoke up for Him. We can identify with this very well. Look at this one, the way he could not talk to anyone when he had a job, he can’t even afford a decent pair of shoe, he has become so poor, he lives in the street, he used to drive a Mercedes S Class, now he walks to work, oh, she buys clothes at Muthurwa, and she used to wear designers, single mothers, childless women, single middle-aged women, pregnant young girls, broken families, broken dreams of people, broken people, … We have all been jeered at our lowest. We all have been abandoned. We all have been looked at with hate. People have celebrated at our downfall. We can really identify with Christ, or is it He can identify with us?
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: – The Carrying of the Cross
Christ had to carry His cross from the City of Jerusalem to the Mountain of Golgotha where He would be crucified on it. On the way, there were sympathetic women, there was Symon the Cyrene, there was Veronica, there were three falls, there was His mother, there were was one disciple, the one Christ loved the most. If we are to be identified with Christ, then we must walk his walk. He said we must carry our crosses and follow Him. Even when we know we will be crucified on it. We must persevere to build endurance, so the endurance builds character. On our way, we will fall, just as Christ fell, but we must rise and keep walking; we will meet our Symon of Cyrene, who will assist us in whichever way they are capable to carry our crosses, they will assist us financially, they will encourage us, they will hug us, they will try to make it bearable; we will find the sympathetic women who will cry with us, who will journey with us, if only for a short while, they will empathize, and wish us well on our way; we will find Veronica, who will wipe the tears off our faces, dust our clothes from our falls, help us make a few lasting memories which will take us through the agonizing time; we will have family and faithful friends who will literally walk every mile of our journey with us. Eventually we must come to Golgotha and here we must be crucified.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: – Crucifixion, Death and Burial of Jesus
Tired, weary, hungry, thirsty, a trudging Christ gets to Golgotha. He is tripped off his only remaining dignity and he bleeds some more as the clothes come off with the dried blood from his wounds. He is laid on his tree, nails driven into his palms and feet, the tree is raised, he hangs in there for three more hours, finally in pain, desperation and all the energy he still has, He questions God; why oh why have you forsaken me? I was a good son, I have done your will, and I even requested you take this all away, why have you forsaken me? I did all you asked me to, I kept the Church pure by chasing those who profaned it, I brought you disciples, why have you forsaken me? I did good things, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and gave water to the thirsty, why have you forsaken me? How many times have we been here, when we question God for what we are going through? When Murphy’s Law has played a trick on us and we feel despaired and despondent? When we feel we do not have the energy to move on, when we have lost everything? Why has he forsaken us? “Unto your hands, I commend my Spirit… IT IS FINISHED”. They say it is at our lowest that we truly recognize the presence of Christ, because it is indeed here that we know we have done everything we could possibly do, but in the long run, it is here we learn the true meaning of Surrendering to the divine will of God. “Unto His hands, we commend ourselves”. We must surrender everything at the cross, we must unite our pains with those of Christ on the cross, we must crucify those weaknesses that keep us away from Him, and we must surrender everything here, at the cross, because it is at that cross that all is finished. Everything is purged. Once we surrender, then we can await the Resurrection, because it is coming. That is Hope. Surrendering to the will of God brings us hope. In this hope we can face tomorrow. Because tomorrow brings resurrection.