Tradition holds that as Jesus carried his cross on the way to the “place of the skull”, a woman was moved with compassion for the suffering Nazarene. She managed to make her way though the tumultuous crowd and roman soldiers in order to come close to him. The woman reached out with her veil to wipe the forehead of the condemned man so as to offer him some type of relief. Blood and sweat trickled in thick drops from the top of his head, where a crown of thorns pressed into his own skull. After taking the cloth and pressing it onto his face, he returned it to the woman. She inspected it and realized the face of Jesus was miraculously impressed upon it.
In the few years when I directed Cristo Vive, a Passion Play produced by Guadalupe Radio in Los Angeles California with more than 150 actors, there was always excitement when it came time to choose the actress who would play this character. “¡Por favor, déjeme ser la Verónica!” various women would tell me - Please, let me play the role of Veronica! The scene only lasted a few seconds, but made a great impression on the hearts of spectators. Beyond the dramatic effect that this scene plays in the story of the Passion, it moves me to think about my own personal encounter with Jesus.
To me Jesus is both Just and Merciful; He has corrected me in times when I have made mistakes and allowed me to suffer the consequences of those mistakes. Yet He is ever more merciful; He’s a God who in spite of my sin has been moved with compassion towards me and reached out his mighty hand, pressing through a once congested heart. I, too, encountered a distorted image of Christ: as a teenager, He was impersonal, unreachable, a myth; he was a reflection of my inner self. It was in my early twenties when I came to know Jesus as God and King. After a season of emotional distress, I surrendered to God in prayer one night and the power of the Holy Spirit filled me with amazing peace. The Light of the World had illumined my soul and filled my heart with love and hope.
As I continue to encounter Jesus everyday of my life through prayer and the Holy Sacraments, I pray that I may be able to come closer to God and that the True Image of Jesus Christ may forever be impressed on my heart and soul.