Imagine for a minute that you are on a mountain with Jesus. You’re both having a great time, Our Lord is telling hilarious jokes, and you feel like you’re on top of the world. The view is magnificent… but then you fall. For some reason you were walking too close to the edge and now you’re plummeting into a downward spiral. One minute you’re waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna!” and the next you find yourself screaming, “Crucify Him!” As you are falling you remember the mountaintop encounter: your relationship with Christ, the beautiful view, and the joy in your heart. You’re upset that you’re falling, but despite your descent, you manage to whisper the name of Jesus.
Then, immediately Jesus stretches out His hand (Matthew 15:31) and tells you to have confidence in Him because He knows what it feels like to fall. He knows what it feels like to put total trust in The Father. He tells you that He will not forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), and that although we may stumble (Psalm 37:24), we will be raised up to new life with Him.
It’s easy to feel discouraged when we sin, especially when we’re really persevering to please God in our walk with Christ. But did you notice what I said before? Jesus Christ, Son of God knows what it feels like to fall! And although He never sinned, it is written that He fell THREE times in the Way of the Cross before enduring His passion.
This, my friends, is a huge testimony of hope for us.
But how do we get back up? Jesus wasn’t alone when He was carrying His cross to Calvary. Sure, maybe He had Roman soldiers whipping Him all the way to Golgotha, but He also had companions that gave Him strength- and so do we!
MOTHER MARY: MEDIATRIX OF GRACE
Jesus falls the first time. Then, in the Fourth Station of the Cross He meets His mother. This station asks us to consider the pain that Jesus and Mary felt when they made eye contact with each other, but I also imagine an even deeper sense of contentment. Her heart is pierced, and Jesus is aching with pain as He struggles to keep moving, but Mary’s trust in God renews Jesus’ strength, and she will renew ours, too. Jesus is reminded of God’s will for Him to suffer for the sake of the whole world, and Mary’s presence fills Him AND us with a maternal grace needed to travel on.
This interaction shows that when we ask Our Lady for her intercession of continual love and guidance through suffering by praying the rosary, for example, we can be confident that when we ask her to be close with us that she will be. After all, one of the last things Jesus did on the cross was entrust us to Mary saying, “Woman, behold your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your Mother.” (John 19) He willed that we stay close by her side while imitating her gentle trust in God as we get back up to carry on. If Jesus wants us to be close with Mary, what reason is there not to be?
SIMON AND VERONICA: FINDING STRENGTH IN STRANGERS, FRIENDS
The Roman soldiers are angry at the slow pace Jesus is moving and grab Simon of Cyrene from the crowd to help Him carry His cross. Simon didn’t know Jesus, but He still helped Him on His journey. Even though Jesus was in such difficult shape, He still was a witness to Simon because He believed in what He was walking toward.
Then a woman from the crowd named Veronica approaches Our Lord. She sees His affliction and wipes His face clean. An image of His beloved face was left imprinted on the cloth. For us, this shows that even when we endure and rejoice with Christ at our weakest points it can leave an impression on people. How many times have we heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”? Our witness to the Gospel leaves an impact in the simplest of ways.
Jesus falls a second time. Each time it gets harder to stand but He does it for us, and in turn, we have strength to stand back up for Him. Simon hardly knew the significance in what Jesus’ death would entail, but the perseverance in Jesus’ eyes revealed something more for you and me, and our death to self when following Christ reveals something bigger, too. We need humility when the cross splinters our hands and we can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other. We need Christ to show us how to bear the heavy load.
JESUS FALLS A THIRD TIME
He knew is journey was coming to an end. Soon, He would outstretch His arms and love would nail Him to the cross for our sake. Now I better understand what Jesus meant when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12). Weakness. Not strength. To all of us, this is an inspiration that drives an arrow straight through the heart. Why? Because we’re sinners. We’re broken, lost, and weak, but Jesus gladly embraces His cross and dies for you and me. He breaks down a multitude of barriers that we put on our hearts. No matter how many times He fell on His way to Calvary, He gets back up again because of the joy that is Heaven.
So whether or not you’re struggling in carrying your cross lately, I encourage you to recognize that there’s always hope in knowing that we’re never alone in our fight home. This is true for any cross we will have to bear. Our path to Heaven isn’t going to be a smooth sailing journey, but I think Jesus wanted us to know that no matter how many times we fall, we still have so much to stand back up for. And if we take the time to notice it, we will see that there are many people who are willing to help us until “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
Christ who is rich in mercy never tires to forgive and help us to carry on; we’re the ones who forget how to keep going. Christ knows all too well what it feels like to fall under the weight of the cross on the way to Calvary. He knows what it’s like to suffer, but He also knows what it’s like to rejoice despite how heavy the weight of sin is. In His humanity we’re called to model His strength.
But we can’t do it alone. Holiness is never attained alone. If we’re truly imitating Christ, then we know that we can get right back up with some help along the way from our Holy Mother, friends, and even strangers.
I don’t know about you, but I can relate to a God who gets up even after falling down, and whose power is made perfect in weakness. We’re not perfect, life takes some wild turns, but God is always meeting us where we are on our road to Him, and He’s always ready to catch us if we fall.
Whisper the name of Jesus. Keep fighting. Keep getting back up.
I’m praying for you!