Image source: photographed at the San Gabriel Mission Museum.
This station is drawn from church tradition and isn’t found in the Gospel accounts of Jesus. In brief, the story is that Veronica, moved by the sight of Jesus suffering, used her veil to wipe the face of Jesus. We shall set aside the question of whether the event actually happened or not.
In the art pieces, the central figures are of course Veronica and Jesus. Also, take a look around and see the other faces and figures observing the scene. Who is sympathetic? Who seem angry? Who seems indifferent?
Let’s put ourselves into the place of Veronica. On one hand, what she did was a small thing. But in context, it was a big thing. If her action was taken with no one seeing it, Jesus would know the compassion in her heart. But her small deed of compassion was done in full view of people among which were people NOT sympathetic and even outright OPPOSED to Jesus.
Does this remind you of one of the teachings of Jesus?
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (NRSV)
We are to extend kindness and compassion to those in need regardless of whether they could pay it back or even pay it forward. In the Matthew 25 teaching, in the second half of it, there is a group of people who say, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ (v. 44). The subtext of their statement is, we would have done those things if we knew it was you O king! To which the king replied, Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me (v. 45).
And what of Jesus? What did he do for the least of these … for us … for me. Jesus died for us … for me while we were … I was yet a sinner.
I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!
— Charles H. Gabriel