The first station of the cross requires us to examine our entire philosophy of life. Jesus is condemned to die because he defied the standards of both the state and the religious establishment in which he lived. To both, he brought a truth they did not want to hear. He set out to witness to the love and justice of the God of all creation: Jews and non-Jews, women as well as men, underlings as well as the professional types of his time. He cured on the Sabbath, mixed with foreigners, taught theology to women, played with children, questioned every law, chose people over ritual every time, never made authority a god. He threatened the establishment with his incessant attempts to build a better world, and they destroyed him for it.
The question with which the first station confronts us is a stark one: What is it in life for which we are willing to be condemned? The goal in life is not to avoid condemnation. No one does. Life’s great challenge is simply to decide who will condemn us and why.
If we were better people, perhaps, we would be condemned more often. Most of all, when we are condemned for the right reasons, the first station reminds us, we know we will not be there alone. Jesus will be standing beside us, hands tied, head up and unyielding.
Jesus, when I am being condemned for doing good where wrong has been, strengthen me.