Stations of The Cross 2010

Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments


Torn dignity and every wound laid bare:
the hands that broke bread now broken;
arms that blessed, too weak to reach;
the body that embraced, marked with the scourge's intimate prying;
legs that strode or sprang from ship to beach,
incapable of bearing.
But the point, sharper than thorn and flay,
is the out-lawing as they would say,
from God's community.
And yet,
it is a fitting culmination of a lifetime of leaving
the body and the heart open.
This is the moment when degradation is invoked
to separate the body from the human,
as a necessary precondition for destruction;
that a man must die for the people
we must ensure that he is a piece of derision
too low for cruelty.
But what would it be for, this dignity,
this   protection?
There never was a need; and is not now.
They have simply made explicit what has always been implicit:
there are no limits to the ways in which the God made man for us
will relate to the human condition;
it is not just an abstract kenosis
but one of blood and bone
of dignity and raiment;
it is the apogee of 'reality';
incarnation, the opposite of a theory.
The baby is a necessary beginning
and this 'reversion' - as Job might say -
is as necessary an ending.
Almost out of the range of the human,
not from degradation but from the anticipation of completion,
all that remains of the body is its pain.


In the beginning
The Word was made flesh and dwells on Calvary.
Look upon The Word, not a demi God from Olympus
nor an athlete oiled and primed for glory
but what is left of a man when humanity has done its worst
and failed.
This disrobing, God unveiled,
is the supposed last stage of derision,
the final assertion of human authority,
the sign that there is no way back,
that the scapegoat has been cast out of the city.
Yet what you see is the failure to subvert the prophesy.
They are not so much malefactors as unknowing collaborators;
they are party to a glorious collusion.
The dice roll for what they have taken
but the Father has already determined how they will come to rest.
Prophets have walked naked for me
and now I stand naked at the end of that sequence of history
which began with Adam putting on his fig-leaf;
we are in a state of transition
but they are still working in the old dispensation.
Their rage is almost blown out,
their achievements suddenly dwindle,
and they will soon wonder what it was all about,
passing through history
from self-justifying hysteria to necessary wisdom.
Better you see the bones and the wounds and the brokenness
than think it was all an illusion;
better to be called The Word made flesh
than the one who said he was.
They have done their worst;
and it never was going to be
bad enough to stop me loving,
for nothing could be.