When John went to confession in Medjugorje he was greeted with a warm welcome from the Irish American priest sitting in the box sheltering from the cold and rain outside. All went well and before he gave absolution the cheery priest asked John if he was familiar with the parable of the Prodigal Son.
John replied, “Yes, Father, I am.”
“So you will know about the significance of the father giving his son sandals to wear?” responded the priest questioningly.
John was hesitant in his answer, “Now, about that, I am not sure.”
“Well, it’s like this,” said the priest, “In those days only slaves and servants went barefoot. Free men wore sandals. So before you go I am going to put sandals on your feet to make you a free man!”
John was puzzled by this response and glanced around to see where the priest would produce the sandals from. He didn’t realise the priest was referring to absolution until he heard the words: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and the resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Shortly afterwards John decided to go to Mt Krizevac and pray the Way of the Cross. The rain had stopped and John took his time to pray at each station and gaze at the amazing detail cast in the bronze reliefs. It was at the fifth station, where Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross for Jesus, that John’s eyes were drawn to the base of the plaque. All of a sudden, the words the priest had spoken to him in the confessional came echoing back: “In those days only slaves and servants went barefoot. Free men wore sandals…”
And as John stared at the plaque, he could clearly see that it was Jesus who stood barefoot and Simon who wore sandals.
• The feet of Simon of Cyrene and Jesus.
• photographs courtesy of Mate Tunin Vasilj.