In these or similar words ...

Dear Jesus,
I came to prayer this week to be with you in your suffering, but the first thing I saw was the photo for the week. I enlarged it and stared at it. What does this have to do with you? I want to pray about and for you, not some people I don’t even know. But wait. Maybe my agenda isn’t the same as yours.

I look at the photo of the drawing from El Salvador that has been made into one of the stations of the cross. I see the whip marks across the backs of this man and woman. The horrible way their bleeding hands are tied up behind them. I can see only their backs, but I realize that the woman has no top on. She must feel so vulnerable, exposed, and helpless, as her persecutors attempt to take away every shred of dignity she has.
And I stay with you in the Gospel, as you are whipped, beaten, mocked, and stripped. I watch as you struggle to surrender yourself to God. I see the fear and vulnerability you must feel, even as you give your total trust to God. You never stop praying as they batter you with questions, treat you with derision and condescension. You are with your Father in spirit, because that is the only way you know to continue this journey God sent you on.

This week I will walk with you and spend time with you in these events. I will again join you at the Last Supper and in the garden. I can’t bear to watch as you are in the trial and I feel so helpless watching you, my dear friend, be pushed into this inevitable death. I know these next hours will be so terrible and I want to be there for you, but I find myself hiding with Peter, pretending I don’t know you, afraid for myself.

It is only as I do the stations of the cross that I can take each step with you in this. I can walk with you each little way as I see how you have done all of this for me. How can I thank you for all you have done? I will carry those images with me throughout this week.

Then I look again at the photo of those two people. I want to be with you in your familiar story this week. But I keep thinking of the people in this photo. What happened to them? How have they been tortured and abused in your name? Your story is old and familiar to me. Theirs is not. And yet they are very real too. Where are those very real people today, Jesus? Are they still alive? Where are you, Jesus?

I look at the photo again and now I see you. How could I have missed you before? You’ve been there all along, standing with them as they are whipped, tied, naked, and vulnerable. You are next to them in their pain and suffering, sharing it with them, there for them, bringing them closer to God.

Thank you, Jesus, for being with them in a way I cannot. Thank you for being with me. Please, let me be with you in each moment of your agony this week, as I try to recognize you in the daily sufferings of my life.

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