“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus, under the weight of the Cross, fell to the ground. Simon, a foreigner, was pressed into service to help Jesus carry His Cross. But even with the help of Simon, Jesus falls again and again.
As our Blessed Mother watched in sorrow as her Son fell to the ground three times, physically exhausted and barely able to go on, she may have recalled Jesus’ own words early on in His public ministry: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” How deeply she must have felt these words resounding in her Immaculate Heart. “My Son, my dear Son, come to me, come to my heart and rest.”
And though she could not physically help her Son carry His Cross, she would have been filled with much gratitude as she saw Simon the Cyrene pressed into service by the guards to help Jesus carry on. Though Simon helped reluctantly, his help was a shining witness. Through Simon, our Blessed Mother knew that the prayer of her heart was answered. She knew that the Father in Heaven was helping Jesus carry the weight of the Cross with the assistance of this foreigner.
As Mother Mary stood before the Cross of Jesus and recalled the assistance of Simon, she would have known that he set forth a powerful example for all people. She would have pondered the act of Simon as a symbol for all Christians. We all are called to help carry the Cross of Christ. No one is exempt from the Cross. Jesus Himself promised the Cross to us when He said,“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The Cross is not an option, it’s a reality, especially the cross of death itself.
The real question for everyone is whether we will embrace the Cross willingly or begrudgingly. Our Blessed Mother desired to lift the heavy burden of the Cross with all her heart. And though Simon did so hesitantly, he made the choice and served in time of need.
Reflect, today, upon the heavy burdens that others carry in life. When you see them and are made aware of their struggles, what is your reaction? Do you turn from them and run from their struggle? Or do you turn towards them, fully embracing the cross they carry. Seek to imitate Simon’s act of carrying the Cross. Seek to imitate our Blessed Mother’s burning desire to do the same with perfect love. Do so without hesitation and you will discover the sweetness of the Cross of Christ as you alleviate another’s burden.
My dearest Mother, as you watched Simon be pressed into service to help your Son carry His Cross, your heart was filled with gratitude. Your prayer was answered as the Father provided the physical strength needed by your Son to carry on. Simon became that strength and a symbol of service to others.
Dear Mother, please point me to those in my life who are in need. Help me to seek out those who carry heavy crosses and to willingly, joyfully and freely seek to help them. Lend me the hands of Simon and your own tender heart so that the burden of many may be lifted.
My exhausted Lord, there are times in life when I fall. Not because of the loss of physical strength, but because of my sin. Help me to be open to the help of others when I am in need. Help me, also, to have the wisdom and love I need to reach out to those who are heavily burdened.
Mother Mary, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.