Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

“It is your face O Lord I seek, hide not your face” (Psalm 27: 8)

Often, it is much safer and more comfortable to be a part of a mob than to stand on your own. Doing nothing seems the easy way out. Along the Via Crucis, suffering is emptied out into a symphony of people. The poet Kosovel once said: “Sorrow flowers into beauty”. Eternal beauty will continue to give sense to the journey of life of every person.

The life of one woman is changed when she dares to step out from the crowd. Veronica is her name, from the Latin words, ‘vera’ meaning true, and ‘icon’, meaning image. Veronica, transparent in her ways, dares to break with the crowd to be with Jesus. She has to be faithful to herself. Peter denies Jesus but Veronica acknowledges Him. It is only a moment, for the soldiers are there to push her aside and keep the death procession moving. But it is a moment that will forever change her life. She stood alone, and for her reward, she will carry a cloth that is forever imprinted with the blood of Jesus. The bloody and disfigured face of Jesus is the “Beauty which saves the world” (F. Dostoevsky).Veronica goes beyond this deformed beauty and sees the heart of a brother in need of a gesture of care. And for just a moment, her courage brought her into a closeness with Jesus that the crowd could never know.

She has nothing to offer Jesus but a simple cloth–and her love. She bathes his face with her cloth, wiping away the blood and sweat. Jesus is able to open his eyes, and there she looks into his eyes. What does she see? Does she see the Lord of Love looking on her with mercy? With grace? With thanks? Sometimes life asks us to walk the delicate last moments of a person’s life when all we can do is wipe the brow of someone in their last agony and suffering, look them in the eye so they know that they are not on their own. Our nearness to them assures them that the pilgrimage which nears its end is not a solitary journey.

In that moment, the tenderness of a woman called Veronica touches Christ. How many women silently change the world with their gestures of conviction and compassion? All through his ministry Jesus sought to elevate women, to show their deep compassion as their strength which allows them to walk the Calvary Way with compassion and conviction. Compassion which is not wishy-washy, seeking to ‘make things better’ but compassion which empowers and brings forth life, born and purified in the crucible of love.

Veronica’s gesture was selfless and unconditional. During this triduum and beyond, may we be less self-absorbed and caught up with our own problems. The ripple effects of a small gesture of compassion can change the world!