Reflection on the Ninth Station By Rob Coulston
When I think about this station on the Way of the Cross, I usually find myself thinking about the “a third time” portion of the title. Falling three times and then summoning the strength and motivation to rise each time. How much pain and anguish must that have caused? How soul-crushing to fall again? But to an outside observer, to one who had just come across this scene in Jerusalem, they would have just seen Jesus fall once. To that person, this is Jesus’ only fall. Or, to an observer even further down the road, who never sees Jesus fall, how can that person know the path Jesus has walked?
We are those witnesses. Human compassion and our Christian duty dictate that we lift up the stranger, the other, when they fall; that we lift them up regardless of the path they have taken. We don’t know how many times our refugee brother or our immigrant sister has fallen, and it doesn’t matter. We see their suffering abroad and invite them here, or we see it here and are compelled to serve them in their need.
It is easy to get caught up in Jesus’ divinity in our prayers and devotions, but today, let us recognize Jesus’ humanity and let us recognize that through our humanity we are connected to him and to his divinity. In his ministry he saw the stranger, had compassion, and acted to lift them up when they fell. Let us see the stranger and the other in the way Jesus did, and let us act as Jesus acted.
Rob Coulston is the lay campus minister at St. Augustine’s Chapel, the Episcopal and Lutheran campus ministry at the University of Kentucky. Raised in the Diocese of Lexington, Rob has served in the church most of his life as a volunteer and professional, including as a director of Reading Camp, a literacy ministry in eastern Kentucky, as an intern at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, MA, and as a youth minister in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.