The Lenten season brings the stories of people who touch our hearts in ways no one else can. As we walk the Passion with Christ, we witness the interior struggle of Pontius Pilate, the dramatic weeping of the women of Jerusalem, the courageous strength of a man named Simon, a mother’s pain and sorrow patiently endured, and a simple act of compassion from a woman we call Veronica.
Not a lot is known about Veronica. She isn’t even mentioned in the Bible. She seems to appear out of nowhere for a brief moment, and then she is lost again among the crowds of history.
But in those brief moments, she reminds us of the importance of active compassion. She didn’t just stand by and feel sorry for Jesus. She didn’t become paralyzed by her own sorrow. She simply saw someone in need and acted. She couldn’t take away His pain, or His sorrow, or His cross. She couldn’t even offer Him food or water. So she used what she had and did what she could.
And that was enough.
I can almost see His eyes looking at her and the glimmer of gratefulness and comfort that must have briefly shone through the agony.
Maybe you’ve seen it too. Through the tears of a friend who has suffered a loss. In the vacant gaze of an elderly relative. Underneath the look of pain in a friend who is ill. Whether we provide a hot meal, offer consoling words, or simply show our love through a hug, we are all called to be Veronica sometimes.
It isn’t easy. Veronica may have felt uncomfortable, awkward, or even fearful as she pressed her way through the crowd towards Jesus. Maybe she had a family waiting for her at home. But she felt compelled to act and she listened to the voice that whispered within. And as she came face to face with Jesus, all of her fears and doubts evaporated. Their eyes met, and her expression matched His as she tried to absorb some of His pain. As she lifted her veil, a sympathetic tear escaped her eye. And as she wiped the face of God, she was surprised that the comfort she sought to give became a gift for her to receive.
Love filled her heart as she slowly lowered her veil from His face. For a moment, all was quiet. The sounds of the crowd. The shouts of the guards. The crack of the whips. It all disappeared as she and her Lord stood eye to eye.
Then, suddenly, reality came back. The sorrowful wailing of a woman. People shoving her further away. An involuntary cry of pain from Jesus Himself.
Their moment was over, but the memory would live on. Maybe she looked in wonder at her veil later that night, marveling at His face.The face with which only sorrow could so intimately unite her. Maybe she showed the veil to her husband and children, allowing them to enter in to her meeting with Love itself. Maybe it was her meeting with Christ that showed her how to be Christ to her family.
Like Veronica, we must go to our friends, our family members, and our neighbors who are suffering. We mustn’t be afraid to cry with them, to struggle with them, to suffer with them.
Because it is in these moments that we will discover the paradox of consolation through suffering. It is in these moments that we will surely see the face of Christ–and bring the gift of His love back home to our families.
Copyright 2018 Charisse Tierney