As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:26-31)
Today’s lesson records two crucial facts. First, even Jesus didn’t carry his cross alone (so it stands to reason we won’t be able to either, try as we might). Second, Jesus was not abandoned by everybody—and, in particular, Jesus was not abandoned by women. It is noteworthy that Luke’s gospel explicitly remembers that the women who had been in Jesus’ company did not leave him, as it does here as well as later, at the moment of Jesus’ death. What a marked contrast to the disciples, all of whom have seemingly gone into hiding, effectively disappearing from the narrative. We don’t learn much in the gospels about the women who followed Jesus, but as we will see, they figure centrally in the events of his death and resurrection. Just because we don’t hear much about them doesn’t mean they weren’t there. And we have to imagine that their presence at the end of our Lord’s life made all the difference to him.
Let us pray: Be gracious to your people, we entreat you, O Lord, that they, repenting day by day of the things that displease you, may be more and more filled with love of you and of your commandments; and, being supported by your grace in this life, may come to the full enjoyment of eternal life in you everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Turn: Take a moment today to consider how God might be calling you to build up women and girls in your life and work. Take one concrete step toward doing so.