Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Psalm 22:9-11
At times of pain, loneliness, distress, we often remember experiences of comfort, safety, peace – and yearn to feel that again. We long for someone to gently sooth away the pain, care for us, make it better. Perhaps this was how Jesus felt on his long walk carrying the cross, remembering comfort and security as a small child at Mary breast, and the love and care of God made manifest to him in the love and nurture of his mother. But now Jesus is alone, surrounded by a vicious and cruel crowd, “and there is no one to help”.
The depth of Veronica’s compassion emboldened her to step out from that crowd. The image of Veronica recalls for me the image of the women who tended and guarded Soldier Lee Rigby’s body when he was murdered. In the face of great violence, they showed extraordinary compassion and bravery, wanting him and his family to know he was not alone.
Compassion made Veronica strong, and compassion makes women and men the world over, bold enough to step out from the crowd and risk themselves to make things a little better. It is not a weakness to feel deeply, to care deeply, it is a strength and a gift, given by Veronica to our Lord at his time of greatest need.
May we, like Veronica, be made bold by our compassion, to sooth, to care, to offer even the smallest act which can help make things a little better for those who suffer.
Revd Dr Kim Wasey, Principal of the Open Theological College, Manchester and Assistant Priest at St Chrysostom’s.