March 23: The Carrying of the Cross

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 23, 2021

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

In the fourth sorrowful mystery, we find Jesus carrying the cross. Simon of Cyrene is brought forth to help bear the weight behind him, but it is Jesus who leads the way. Body weakened by the physical trauma he has experienced already, Jesus falls once, twice, then a third time under the weight of the cross.

It is in this mystery that I am vividly reminded of Jesus’ active role in the Passion. Until this point, we might see the sorrowful mysteries as things that happened to Jesus. But when he lifts the cross, when he stands after falling again and again, he is making a choice for our sake. How easy it might have been, after that first fall, to lie in the dirt and stay there.

What great love he has for us, that each time he falls, he finds within himself the strength to stand, to heft the cross over his bleeding shoulders, and continue on the path to his Crucifixion.

There are crosses that we bear in our lives, and there are seasons when we find ourselves falling under their weight. Others may watch us fall and shout that we must be stronger, that we must pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and walk, that our crosses are our own responsibility.

If we learn anything from this mystery, let it be this: it is love and love alone that can carry the cross.

May we have compassion for ourselves and for others when the weight of the cross is too much to bear. May we offer to share the burden with others when we can, and may we turn to Jesus when we stumble.

These reflections are meant to challenge us on our journey through Lent. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments with us.

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