Good Veronica

There is a young woman in Jerusalem who makes her way through a bustling scene. A man in the middle of the street – beaten, bruised and bloodied – on his hands and knees. His cross lays beside him. He looks as if he has lost all strength. Between the soldiers who are fending off the frenzied crowd, she comes to the man with firm resolve. Who is this man? She knows. In her heart and mind, lifted by grace, she humbly kneels down and speaks, “Permit me, Lord?” as she offers to wipe his blood-stained face. With the slightest smile, he looks upon her as she raises the cloth to his face, the very cloth that will bear his face – the face of her savior. Continuing her loving care she offers some water to quench his parched thirst, but not before a soldier comes and chases her away.

We know this woman as Veronica from Catholic tradition – loving and compassionate Veronica. Few have had her experience: to touch the Lord, to touch his wounds, and to comfort him. Throughout the Gospels it has always been Jesus who has touched persons, either physically or spiritually by his power. But here, on this Friday, the Lord has permitted a young woman of Jerusalem to weep for him and come to his aid.

I can’t imagine that Veronica left the Lord’s company after such an experience. Perhaps, she followed Jesus as he continued through the streets of Jerusalem, tightly gripping her imaged cloth. As he made his way outside the city gates and began his ascent to Calvary, I can picture Veronica stopping at the gates and watching from a distance. Inscribed upon her heart and mind is the image of the face of her savior. In the distance her Lord is lifted up on Calvary, as she gazes intently upon the hill of salvation, venerating the true Cross. She looks upon the horror of the scene, but she does not dare to turn away.

So little is good on this day. We know how the story ends, but in the moments from the garden to the court, from the pillar to the hill, little but violence, mockery, and pain are found. Except there is Veronica. Good Veronica. A glimmer of good in the darkest of days. It is the draw of Christ, the grace of his zealous heart, that calls her to seek his face. Like the woman at the well from whom the Lord desires a drink (Jn 4), Veronica comes to offer the drink of true faith to her Lord – a faith she has shown him in the middle of the anger and hate of this day.

Today the world watches and looks upon the Cross. Some of us know its weight and the pierce of its nails. Some of us resent its presence or grapple with its difficulty. Some of us shudder in our hearts with fear at its immensity. Yet, there is a young woman in Jerusalem who works her way through the soldiers and the crowd, to come close to the face of her Lord. This is most remarkable, to seek his face precisely in his suffering and to see his gentle smile of love for her, somehow letting her know that he will make all things new. She waits and looks upon the hill of salvation with eyes of faith – faith in his goodness. She holds his face in the cloth of her hands. She holds his face in her heart. She does not dare to turn away.

Today we look upon the Cross, this Good Friday. We look with Veronica, the beholder of the true face. We look with her who was permitted to come so close. The Cross is fixed in our minds and hearts today, and Veronica helps us not dare to turn away.

Image: The Passion of the Christ

You May Also Enjoy:

The Blessed Virgin Mama Bear Though Goldilocks might beg to differ, mama bears are excellent mothers. It is clear that every mama bear loves her cubs very dearly (insofar as animals are capable of affections).  More so than most animals, the mother bear cares for and watches over the cubs.  She teaches them how to be bears both by her example and by disciplining them when they do wrong.  She pulls them out of danger and stands between them and any possible threat to their li...
Offer It Up “Offer it up.” This three-word phrase was commonplace in my upbringing. A hardship comes along? Offer it up. You’re made to obey against your preference? Offer it up. Behind these three words, there is actually a beautiful understanding of our connection to Christ and the salvific potential of suffering as Christians. In Lumen Gentium, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council teach: For besides intimately linking them to His life and His m...
Jesus Christ, King of Thieves O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti. O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay. The O Antiphon today is a cry for the return of the King. It is the coming of this King that we look forward to during Advent: during the first half we look for His second comin...
The Standing Now In a few days we will celebrate Christ the King, which anticipates the moment when Jesus returns, time ends, and eternal life begins. But what do we mean by “eternal”? Is it the same sort of eternity as a traffic jam or a long line at the grocery store, when we notice every passing second? The easiest way for us to conceptualize eternity is as an infinite extension of time into the future, as if it marched forward without end. But this does not d...
Br. Michael Mary Weibley, O.P.

Written by:

Br. Michael Weibley entered the Order of Preachers in 2010. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he graduated from Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio where he studied history and philosophy. Br. Michael is currently pursuing his S.T.B and M. Div. degrees at the the Dominican House of Studies in preparation for ordination to the priesthood. On DominicanFriars.org