(c) 2022 Josephine Lombardi
The Carrying of the Cross
The scourging leaves open wounds on Jesus’ back. No doubt, the wood of the cross presses into these sores. The Gospel writers tell us that Simon of Cyrene is asked to help Jesus and carries the cross part of the way. Simon is an example of how we can join our own pain and losses to those of Jesus. Simon’s assistance gave Jesus some relief during this excruciating ordeal.
Our loved ones walk with us whenever we face a life-threatening journey. Their comfort alleviates the pain we feel when a new cross comes soon after another, making the pain feel unbearable. Our crosses involve them, too. We suffer in ways unique to us, and those who love us suffer in ways that may be unknown to us.
Has a loving act of kindness given you relief in times of distress? Can we discern those crosses we are not to carry? Sometimes our good intentions, our desire to protect our loved ones, to cover up for their mistakes or to carry their crosses may lead to a delay in their own conversion process. It takes prayer and discernment to know what type of help is needed. What is certain, however, is our baptismal identity and how it informs our understanding of service and acts of charity.
By virtue of our baptism, we participate in the three fold office of Christ: prophet, priest, and king. Like Jesus, we can offer up our own sacrifices for the sake of others. Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us there is redemptive power in suffering that is joined to the suffering of Jesus. We are an extension of His body. St. Paul was very much aware of this mystery when he, too, offered up his own suffering.
Let us pray for all people who have experienced or witnessed trauma, abuse, and torture. Let us pray for all people who feel overwhelmed with grief, suffering due to the tragic and sudden death of loved ones.