This Monday was the second anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It was also the midpoint of the Lent, equidistant from Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday.
During Lent, Catholics do a devotion called the Stations of the Cross, in which the faithful contemplate a series of fourteen images that depict the events surrounding Jesus’s death. The devotion mingles scripture, tradition and pious legend. Recently, Japanese Catholics have combined the images of Christ with pictures from the aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami.
The idea is to connect the two experiences of suffering to foster greater compassion for both, although I do wonder if the increase in solidarity comes at the expense of exploiting the pain of the victims.
First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.
“Abba, Father, take this cup from me.” – Mark 14:36
Second Station: Jesus accepts his cross.
“Yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Mark 14:36
Third Station: Jesus falls the first time. (Japan’s first disaster, the earthquake)
“Though the mountains may fall and the hills be shaken, my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken,” says the Lord who takes pity on you. – Isaiah 54:10
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?” – Isaiah 49:15
Fifth Station: Simon helps Jesus carry his cross.
The Lord supports all who fall and raises those who are bowed down. He is close to all who call to Him, who call on him from their hearts. – Psalm 145
Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead… A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds.” – Luke 10:30-34
Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time. (Japan’s second disaster, the tsunami)
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. – Psalm 69:1-3
Eighth Station: Jesus meets mourning women and children.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. –Matthew 5:5
Ninth Station: Jesus falls a third time. (Japan’s third disaster, explosions at the nuclear power plant)
Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his clothing.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” –Job 1:12
Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross.
What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. –Job 3:25
Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. – Luke 23:46
Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross.
You have taken my friends from me. You have made me an abomination to them. I am confined, and I can’t escape. My eyes are dim from grief. I have called on you daily, Lord. I have spread out my hands to you. Do you show wonders to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise you? –Psalm 88:8-10
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is place in a tomb.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, remembering Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our oppressors demanded songs of joy; “Sing to us,” they said, “one of Zion’s songs.” –Psalm 137:1-3