V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. [We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.]
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum. [Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.]
From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:24
The soldiers divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.
|Tenth Station of the Cross,
Church of Saint-Brice-en-Coglès
As Jesus is stripped of his clothes at Golgotha (cf. Mk 15:24, etc.), our thoughts turn once more to his Mother. They go back in time to the first days of this body which now, even before the crucifixion, is covered with wounds (cf. Is 52:14). The mystery of the Incarnation: the Son of God takes his body from the Virgin’s womb (cf. Mt 1:23; Lk 1:26-38).
The Son of God speaks to the Father in the words of the Psalmist: “Sacrifice and offering you desired not; but a body you have prepared for me” (Ps 40:7; Heb 10:5). A man’s body is the expression of his soul. Christ’s body is the expression of his love for the Father: “Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do your will, O God” (Ps 40:7; Heb 10:7). “I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 8:29). With every wound, every spasm of pain, every wrenched muscle, every trickle of blood, with all the exhaustion in its arms, all the bruises and lacerations on its back and shoulders, this stripped body is carrying out the will of both Father and Son. It carries out the Father’s will when it is stripped naked and subjected to torture, when it takes unto itself the immeasurable pain of a humanity profaned.
The human body is profaned in any number of ways.
At this Station we must think of the Mother of Christ, because in her womb, in her eyes and in her arms the body of the Son of God was most fully adored.
Jesus, sacred body, still violated in your living members. R. Kyrie, eleison.
Jesus, body offered in love, still divided in your members. R. Kyrie, eleison.
From the Gospel according to Matthew. 27:33-36
And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
|James Tissot, Jesus is Stripped of His Clothing (c. 1890)|
Jesus is stripped of his garments. Clothing gives a man his social position; it gives him his place in society, it makes him someone. His public stripping means that Jesus is no longer anything at all, he is simply an outcast, despised by all alike. The moment of the stripping reminds us of the expulsion from Paradise: God’s splendor has fallen away from man, who now stands naked and exposed, unclad and ashamed. And so Jesus once more takes on the condition of fallen man. Stripped of his garments, he reminds us that we have all lost the “first garment” that is God’s splendor.
At the foot of the Cross, the soldiers draw lots to divide his paltry possessions, his clothes. The Evangelists describe the scene with words drawn from Psalm 22:19; by doing so they tell us the same thing that Jesus would tell his disciples on the road to Emmaus: that everything takes place “according to the Scriptures”. Nothing is mere coincidence; everything that happens is contained in the Word of God and sustained by his divine plan. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of man’s fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step towards our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep. Let us not forget that John says that lots were drawn for Jesus’ tunic, “woven without seam from top to bottom” (Jn 19:23). We may consider this as a reference to the High Priest’s robe, which was “woven from a single thread”, without stitching (Fl. Josephus, a III, 161). For he, the Crucified One, is the true High Priest.
Lord Jesus, you were stripped of your garments, exposed to shame, cast out of society. You took upon yourself the shame of Adam, and you healed it. You also take upon yourself the sufferings and the needs of the poor, the outcasts of our world. And in this very way you fulfill the words of the prophets. This is how you bring meaning into apparent meaninglessness. This is how you make us realize that your Father holds you, us, and the whole world in his hands. Give us a profound respect for man at every stage of his existence, and in all the situations in which we encounter him. Clothe us in the light of your grace.
|Tenth Station of the Cross (detail),
Pfettisheim Saint Symphorian
Pater noster, …
Fac ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.