Carrying a Cross of Hope

April 3, 2013

By Deanna Wolf, Columban Volunteer, USA

stations of the cross with U.S. Capitol

People of faith gather for the annual Stations of the Cross witness in Washington, D.C.

It is hard to imagine a hopeful Jesus as He carried the cross making His way to Golgotha where He would be crucified.  The image is one of suffering, tears and blood. Yet I believe that our Lord was reassured by signs of hope along the way: comfort from His mother, compassion of the human spirit in a kind gesture, relief and fulfillment as He let up His last breath.

On Good Friday, I participated in Washington D.C.’s Economic and Ecological Way of the Cross, a recreation of the Passion of Jesus commenting on the institutions and structures of our day that both hinder and advance solidarity and action for justice.  Traveling through the city following a crowd carrying crosses,one life size and several smaller versions, I felt a bit of an anomaly as disciple of Jesus transplanted 2,000 years into the future. Traversing sidewalks among tall buildings well known for the agencies and programs they house inside, I looked around and saw what Jesus must have seen as he glanced over the wooden cross on His shoulder: sin, greed, despair, goodness, aspiration, and righteousness.

Stations of the Cross stop in front of the White House to lift up concerns regarding gun violence.

Stations of the Cross stop in front of the White House to lift up concerns regarding gun violence.

At the Fourth Station where Jesus met His mother, I stood on the grounds of the U.S. Agency for International Development. I felt the presence of a mother who cared deeply for her son but also for the people of the world that are his own. U.S. assistance can be a mother in itself- looking after the needs of the poor and promoting development that works to serve the vulnerable. Unfortunately, not all of the Agency’s policies are carried out to fulfill its mission, and it sometimes fails to serve the stakeholders most invested.  Yet I found hope in the announcement of renewed commitment to local partnerships and the inclusion of technological innovations for development.

Where Veronica would wipe the face of Jesus at the Seventh Station, I stood on a street corner across from New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. In the spirit with which Veronica served Jesus in His darkest hour, the church reaches out in love to poor, vulnerable, and suffering populations. Homeless men, women, and families are fed in the basement of this historic building, and they worship in its sanctuary along with other congregants. Just the week before, I attended a presentation on The Gospel of Rutba, by Greg Barrett, on Christian Shane Claiborne’s interreligious peacemaking at the same church. I found hope through the doors of a worship community that truly serves to build The Kingdom of God.

As I completed my Way of the Cross through Washington D.C., I let up a sigh. How must our Lord have felt after completing the journey to His death? So much had been done, yet very much remained still to do. Despite it all, I believe Jesus rose with a sense of hope for creation and the goodness humans are capable of. I myself carry on with this sense of renewed spirit and optimism as the Easter Season begins here at the CCAO.