The ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them,
but sinners stumble. Hosea 14 : 10
I have a habit, good or bad, I don’t really know, of approaching The Stations of the Cross with my hands behind my back. Why I do this, I couldn’t say. Maybe someone up on body language could offer an explanation or reason. But I never paid too much attention to this trait until this morning when I arrived at the seventh station and noticed one of the figures standing with his hands behind his back, and realised I was standing in the same way.
My initial observation was while Jesus was on the ground and two people people were helping him up again, the man with his hands behind his back was not in any hurry to assist, but simply stood his ground and looked on, as if in a supervisory role. Clearly this man did not want to touch Jesus, or to be touched by him. Imagine Jesus possibly stretching out his hand for support and maybe even making a grab at the man to stop himself falling. Perhaps that’s why the man made sure to keep his hands behind his back. He didn’t want to be touched by Jesus.
Could the reason he didn’t want to touch or be touched be because he considered Jesus unclean, inside and out? Didn’t want to get his hands dirty? Let others do the dirty work? Or was he simply displaying his authority to onlookers by the supervisory stance he adopted, letting others do the heavy lifting, the labouring.
That’s always a temptation for me, leaving it to others, especially the lifting. It can also be a temptation for anyone in a position of authority when boundaries are fixed to mark levels of responsibilty and won’t be crossed, no matter how necessary. I can’t count the times I have said: “It’s not up to me”, pretending to myself and others that I’m not in a position to help when I really am but have drawn a line and become hard-hearted.
The two other men in the frame of the sixth station are seen raising the cross and raising Jesus from the ground. Be we paid servants or soldiers, or a men in authority, each of us have our own particular station in life.
When we walk the Way of the Cross, we become blessed to recognise our station in life and if there is anything that is preventing us from serving others, especially when we choose to stand with our hands behind our back.