Reflections on the Stations of the Cross
The First Station: Jesus is condemned to Death
My first year of grad school I lived in a residential complex for upperclass and graduate students. Essentially they were apartments in a residence hall. There were five of us in a three-bedroom apartment. We met at the start of the year to set up expectations and determine how to split up chores.
I wasn’t really around. Where I really “lived” was at the school of music. I was gone every morning by 7 or 7:30 a.m., before anyone was up, and I didn’t come back until dinnertime, and sometimes later. I went to bed earlier than they did. Within a week they asked if we could rearrange room assignments, because I wasn’t around and two of them wanted to room together.
I should have realized then that trouble was brewing, but I didn’t. I’d had bad roommate experiences before, and some of it I could only blame on myself, but I’d learned from the experience. I thought if I followed the rules and minded my own business, we’d coexist just fine.
I was wrong. As things began to go south–bewilderingly so–a new friend told me she’d been in a similar experience once, where her roommates had turned on her because she was the weirdo who was never around, who was always at the school of music practicing. I couldn’t imagine anybody would be that nasty, but the farther into the semester we got, the less firmly I held that belief. First they refused to share pots and pans. Then–hello, petty– one girl accused me of using her cup. (For the record, it was not her cup, it was mine.) Eventually someone accused me of lying about having done my weekly cleaning assignment. They scheduled a meeting with the resident advisor that I didn’t realize was planned as a four-person attack on me until five minutes into the meeting–far too late to prepare any defense.
That was, without question, the worst semester of my life: lonely, introverted, far from home, without a car, without even a place of safety to call home. I don’t dwell much on that time, but whenever I hear the word “condemned,” that’s what comes to mind.
When Jesus went before the Sanhedrin and eventually to Pilate and Herod and back, he was truly innocent–far more than I was. My condemnation came because I was different and I didn’t understand the unwritten rules. Jesus knew the rules–the written ones and the unwritten. He also knew what was wrong with them, and he wasn’t afraid to point it out.
So this station for me is a point of solidarity. Much of Jesus’ passion defies true comprehension, but this–being condemned when you really didn’t do anything wrong–this I understand. And understanding brings me a step closer.