The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus.
Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, Lord, do I seek!
Church tradition teaches that along the Way of Sorrows Jesus meets a merciful woman named Veronica, who offers him her veil to wipe his bloody face. In this gentle exchange I find great comfort. The journey to Calvary is long and painful, but interspersed throughout are moments of great tenderness and mercy. First, with the Blessed Mother, then, with Simon of Cyrene. Now, Veronica presents herself to the Lord with this act of compassion.
I think of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,
no beauty to draw us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
But Veronica chose not to spurn this poor Man, and by entering into his suffering she obtained the priceless gift of his precious countenance on her veil.
I would give anything to share that encounter with our Lord, and yet I wonder if I would have pushed through the crowd and approached him myself. How often do I turn and look the other way when suffering is right in front of me? How easy it is to pass by the hungry, the poor, the lonely, the less beautiful.
Blessed Mother Teresa once wrote:
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
Jesus, open my eyes to see you in the suffering, especially those hungry for love. Let me not pass up the opportunity to be impressed with your likeness in them.
V: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. (Genuflect)
R: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. (Rise)
V: Consider the compassion of the holy woman, Veronica. Seeing Jesus in such distress, His face bathed in sweat and blood, she presented Him with her veil. Jesus wiped His face, and left upon the cloth the image of his sacred countenance. (Kneel)
R: My beloved Jesus,
Your face was beautiful before You began this journey;
but, now, it no longer appears beautiful and is disfigured with wounds and blood.
Alas, my soul also was once beautiful when it received Your grace in Baptism;
but I have since disfigured it with my sins.
You alone, my Redeemer, can restore it to its former beauty.
Do this by the merits of Your passion; and then do with me as You will.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.)
Teresa. & Vardey, L. (1995). A simple path. New York: Ballantine Books.
St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Stations of the Cross