Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

The following is a reflection about the fourteenth station of the cross prepared by Chris Huben, a Volunteer living in the McKinley Park Community. Chris is working at Cabrini Green Legal Aid and he shared his story at Amate House’s Stations of the Cross evening of reflection on April 5, 2017.

As you walk around Chicago, there will be no sounds of nails being hammered into wood. You will not hear someone crying out in agony because nails are being sent through their hands and feet. You will not see a man hanging from tree forgiving those who put him up there. You will not see a gruesome sight like this. However, though not identical to this exact sight, every day I witness something very similar to this, and I am confident that everyone witnesses these events. If one does not see them, then they must look harder.

Everyday heading to work on the train, I change from the Clark and Lake orange line train to the blue line. I've noticed a middle aged woman with no legs sitting in a wheelchair. After seeing her on multiple occasions, I decided to make conversation with her. Miss Shirley has become one of my new best friends. Even though sometimes she calls me Mike, sometimes she is able to remember my name.

I have never met someone like Miss Shirley. It is extremely difficult to make conversation with her. Most of the conversations end with her crying and looking down to the ground and not saying anything else to me. Miss Shirley has been nailed to the cross. Suffering from drug addiction, no home, and most of all, a lack of love. Thousands of people walk by her each week, and only a fraction give her any attention.

Mother Teresa once said, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” Each time someone walks by Miss Shirley, the nails are being driven even deeper. When the crowds of hurried passengers ignore her humanity, the pain from hanging on the cross becomes even sharper. When Christ was on the cross, this was the last of his suffering. He remained there until he breathed his last. Miss Shirley, right now, is hanging on the cross, and it seems as if she has given up.
Chris shares his reflection at the McKinley Park Stations of the Cross reflection night. 
Miss Shirley told me that she loves Milky Ways, so I purchased some from CVS. The next time I saw her, I was so excited to give her one. However, Miss Shirley would barely look up. She did not understand what it meant to receive a gift. I don’t even think she thanked me. She simply took the candy and the conversation slowly dwindled. Have you ever been in so much pain that no compliment or act of kindness could even bring the slightest bit of comfort? The nails are very deep and the period of hanging on the cross is becoming a harder and harder.

As Christ hung on the cross, He cried out, “Father why have you abandoned me.” I can hear the echoes of this agonizing shout as I look into the eyes of Miss Shirley.

Lord, we pray that you give us the eyes to see those who are nailed down to the cross. Give us the grace to find them and try to bring them comfort. We are weak though Lord, and we need your grace to do good. We beg you now to send the Holy Spirit upon us so that we might become filled with a burning desire to bring comfort and love to everyone we meet, for in doing that, we are loving you. Help us to set aside our selfishness and tend to the brokenhearted and those in pain. Instill in our minds an understanding that these actions are not done so that others might think highly of us, but because you loved us first and we want to respond to that love.

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