The Kind of Love God Has For Us
In the Old City of Jerusalem, the Via Dolorosa begins at the site where the Roman
Empire’s Antonia Fortress once stood and where Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to death.
It then winds its way along the road to Calvary, where Christ laid down His life to redeem
mankind. Pilgrims to the Holy Land have been walking the Via Dolorosa for centuries, and
this practice came to inspire the Stations of the Cross, wherein Christ’s sacrifice is
memorialized through artistic renderings that spiritual pilgrims can experience anywhere in
One of the most unique interpretations of the Stations of the Cross in recent years
has been a live performance called “The Cross and the Light,” a musical production that
originated in Detroit several years ago and that continues to be performed upon request
around the country and the world.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Kelly Nieto, creator of “The Cross and the Light,” recalls her own profound experience with the Stations of the Cross. After a conversion from atheism, she was preparing to become Catholic and attended the stations for the first time. In reflecting on Christ’s passion, she became overwhelmed with grief in realizing the depths of His personal sacrifice for her. “It changed me forever,” Nieto recalls. “I was inspired to write ‘The Cross and the Light’ to give millions of other people that same understanding.”
Nieto’s production began as a stage play, but she eventually adapted it into a musical and it has become a tradition in the Detroit area during Lent. But the stations remain relevant throughout the year, and utilizing the experience to immerse ourselves in the reality of Christ’s passion can have a transformative effect on the soul, especially during times of suffering. Christ wanted to meet each one of us in our suffering and transform us with His love. All it takes for this transformation to take root is a mind willing to contemplate Christ’s sacrifice and a heart open to the reality of His love.
Consider this: in the intensity of His suffering, Christ knew every bit of anguish you would face in your life and willingly took on His own suffering and death on the cross in order to connect with you in the deepest way and to raise you up to the hope of eternal life. That’s the kind of love God has for us, and we should take the time to contemplate it and allow it to transform our hearts. What does that transformation look like? It looks like our starting to emulate Christ in our relation to others. It looks like our becoming more sacrificial in order to raise those around us up to God.
Nieto’s original play culminated in the resurrection, but in adapting it to a musical, she added a second act. “Jesus had resurrected,” she told the Register, “but the apostles were still hiding in a locked room.” Her second act became “The Empty Tomb to Pentecost” and explored the hope that transformed the world in the aftermath of His resurrection.
The Stations of the Cross point us towards the glorious reality of the empty tomb and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Christ’s sacrifice makes possible the ultimate glory God intends for us all. By taking the spiritual journey of walking in His footsteps to Calvary, we demonstrate our appreciation for all He has done for us and awaken within ourselves a deeper relationship with God.
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