SASKATOON — Hundreds walked through downtown streets on Good Friday, reflecting on the passion and death of Jesus in light of suffering and injustice experienced in the world today.
The annual ecumenical Way of the Cross April 3 included representatives from church groups and organizations providing reflections and leading prayer at each of the 14 stations.
Beginning near the Vimy Memorial on Spadina Crescent with a reflection on Jesus’ agony in the garden, representatives of the Micah Mission reflected on those caught up in the justice system: inmates as well as victims of crime.
The issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls was the focus of prayer at the second station, the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. “Indigenous women and girls are being destroyed and betrayed daily by systems of power that ignore the reality of their daily ordeals,” read Deb Larmour, representing Voices of Our Sisters, an ecumenical event to be held April 18 in Saskatoon.
Representatives of L’Arche Saskatoon carried the cross to the third station, under the statue of Chief Whitecap and John Lake, reflecting on Jesus’ trial.
“People with intellectual disabilities often stand in the place where Jesus stood, having to give an account of themselves, facing similar questions. Who are you? Why do you deserve to live?” said Wyndham Thiessen of L’Arche. “Our world struggles to see the value of people with disabilities. Our world struggles to see that all people have dignity, that all people have inherent worth, that each person is a beautiful son or daughter of the God who loves us and created us all.”
At the fourth station, Peter denies Jesus, representatives of Sanctuary Saskatoon reflected on the suffering of those who are rejected because of their sexual orientation: “Help us to love every single person we encounter, without examining if they are different than us. Just help us accept, and love.”
Development and Peace representatives highlighted the responsibility to pursue justice in light of Pilate’s judging of Jesus: “Loving Jesus, forgive us for the times we have washed our hands of our responsibilities because of apathy or self-interest or fear of what others will say. Help us to do our part through simple actions such as reducing consumption, minimizing waste, supporting local producers and small-scale farmers through our choices of what we buy.”
Other participating organizations included the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, Couples for Christ, Saskatoon Friendship Inn, Lutheran hospital chaplains, and parish nurses.
At the 10th station, reflecting on the crucifixion, representatives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon’s Justice and Peace Commission considered where Christ is crucified again today. “The list of those crucified is long but would include addicts, criminals, people whose sexual orientation differs from the mainstream, First Nations people who were traumatized by colonialism, poor people and the victims of war everywhere.”
Members of Equal Justice for All reflected on the suffering of isolation and exclusion experienced by those who are marginalized. Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners prayed for those suffering from many forms of violence.
At the final station, marking the moment when Jesus was laid in the tomb, local church leaders presented a reflection on the steps of St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral. “We are citizens of a country, members of a human community, and people with voices and votes when issues of justice are being decided in our councils, our governments and our courts. How often are decisions made that fail to do justice, or even do great harm, particularly to the most vulnerable within our society? How often are we complicit in those decisions because we do not speak out, because we do not know what to say?”
The event concluded with the Lord’s prayer and a blessing from the church leaders before participants were invited into the co-cathedral for a soup lunch, with proceeds of a free-will offering going to The Bridge on 20th.