Lenten Meditation #7

Passionszyklus (Gang nach Golgatha), Kirche Tenna, GR, um 1408, unbekannter Künstler
Passion of Christ fresco (Way to Golgatha), Kirche Tenna, GR, around 1408, unknown artist

A burdened man, apparently at the end of his physical strength, carrying a cross. He is led on a rope by armed and armoured soldiers. In the background a civilian who helps to carry the load.

  • How confident do I feel when I can or have to act, protected by professional attributes (uniforms, rights, privileges)?
  • What drives me to despise another human being?
  • What enables me to unconditionally love and value another person?
  • What does it take for me to engage to help a stranger who apparently is at the end of his or her strength or in an emergency situation?
  • How do I look forward toward my own death?

This scene from the passion of Christ fresco in the church of Tenna, Switzerland, depicts Jesus on his way to Calvary. Although he knows that he will be sentenced to death and executed soon, he looks with a soft look to his tormentors. This devotion is reciprocated by the captain with contempt. The helping man in the background leaves the impression of not really actively participating in the event.

The unknown artist depicts in this scene something I wish to have: To hold on to the ability and the power to treat fellow human beings with respect, understanding and love, even when I am under pressure, stressed, or tied down.

I am better able to do so when I understand each human being and each creature as an indispensable part of creation. It helps me to maintain the awareness that all living beings carry or embody part of the divine light.

Therefore I hope that I will be able to see both the light and the shadows in this world, again and again. I wish to realize them without judging this diversity with my personal valuation. I wish for the strength and openness to enter the world as a human being who does not need the protection of social status or professional privileges. It is my experience that the deepest and longest lasting human encounters are the ones that happen unmasked and with an open heart.

Here is the bible text that informed the above painted scene:

The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:31-32)

When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.

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More meditations based on the ten scenes in the fresco that I will publish (in English and German) throughout the lenten season can be found here: Betrachtungen zur Fastenzeit

Here is an overview of the entire fresco:

(photo credit: Foto-Kunst Andreas Keller, kirchen-online.org)

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