8 TEARS OVER J.
Tears over Johannesberg, tears over Jerusalem, tears over Jesus, tears over whatever. One of the reasons why the way of the cross has appealed so much to the common people for such a long time might well be that it offers so much more room to emotions - and thus also to tears - than the articles of faith or its instructions learned in the catechism. A few generations ago people had more need for this than they have now. Then, it was fairly generally assumed that people live in a 'vale of tears', whereas today's way of life, now that so much of pain, illness and suffering has been overcome, is more geared to a 'seize the day ' sort of mentality. This station is one of the few that is based on a statement in one of the gospels: "A large crowd of people followed him, among whom were women who mourned and grieved for him". Ted Felen, as many before him, is rather distrustful of these tears. They call up the 'crocodile tears' of the wailing women who are being paid to mourn. Personally I rather doubt this, if only because this detail has been handed down to us by Luke, who has attributed remarkably positive roles to the women in his gospel stories. But whether the tears are real or not, Jesus points out to these daughters of Jerusalem that they had better mourn themselves, their children and their city. By the time Luke writes his gospel the temple of Jerusalem and a large part of the city has been demolished, razed to the ground, and many tears have been shed. Neither were they the last tears shed on earth. Churchill's 'blood, sweat and tears' has become the classic expression for what we people do to ourselves and each other. Although our sublunary world may no longer be experienced as a 'vale of tears', the 'wailing women' of this station can be linked to the Argentinian mothers of the Plaza de Maya and ,on the day I am writing this, to the women of Kosovo, to remind us that our society is still far removed from the 'fun fair' we often seem to think it is.