Jesus is laid in the tomb
The tomb is not depicted on this Station. The burial cloth that carries the body of Jesus is taut under his weight, his hand hanging lifeless to the ground. He is suspended between John and Joseph of Arimathea, the donor of the tomb in which he would lie but not be contained. Despite being a member of the Council that condemned Jesus, Joseph disagrees with their verdict, gets authority from Pilate to take the body, and donates his own tomb as its resting place. Meanwhile, Mary gazes at her Son in breathless sorrow.
However, not all is lifeless. No less than three flowers grace the rock of this final station, bringing the total to sixteen on just nine stations – with just five without. Why so? We might take these to be a particular sculptor’s trademark, were it not for the fact that the largest flowers often appear at the heel of the cross. Are these then, simply to strengthen the sculpture at a vulnerable point? Or are we to see in them signs of life, symbolized where the Cross has touched the ground, or where Jesus walks – or falls?
In pondering this little mystery we may be coming close to the very heart of the Way of the Cross: that the Stations are about life, not death. The life that Jesus offers in his Resurrection is won at enormous human cost; for St. Paul of the Cross: “the greatest sign of God’s love”. But it is a cost that we find continuing in our own lives and in our world, where the beaten, bleeding face of Christ in his brothers and sisters waits to be met with the compassion that can transform it into the glorious face of the Risen Lord. Each time that is done God’s Kingdom comes on our earth. A Kingdom flower blooms.
It has been suggested that in the future we may be able to build an open tomb in the manner of biblical times in the space that remains before the exit gate. This would be to indicate that the Stations of the Cross, the story of the Passion and Death of Christ, make sense only in view of faith in his Resurrection, witnessed both by the empty tomb and the ongoing experience of his disciples – from then even until now, and including each one of us. The Lord we have followed in the Stations we continue to follow in our lives.
One can’t help but notice as we approach the exit gate, the Memorial plaques set on either side of the path. Many people have chosen to record in this Sacred space the memory of their loved ones. In so doing they are assisting with the continuous upkeep of these beautiful and priceless monuments. In order to keep open this place of beauty and maintain the statues and garden surrounds we seek your help. For this reason donation boxes are placed at the beginning and end of the Sacred Garden. Thank you.
The Sacred Garden Committee wishes to acknowledge the invaluable historical research and devotional reflection of Br. Jeff Daly, cp. on whose original work these visit notes are based.