The Third Station; Jesus falls the first time

The cross is heavy and the road is long, Jesus falls to the ground and the soldiers drag him to his feet again.  The world is filled with people who have fallen and are trying desperately to get up.  People released from prison, the persecuted, a student struggling in school or with peer pressure, a breadwinner losing a job, or someone being told they have cancer.

While driving in downtown Amsterdam, I stopped at a light and noticed a homeless man with a long scar across his face, like a map to a life of pain and strife.  He was picking through the trash scattered along the road looking for discarded cans and bottles.  This down and out man depended upon the waste and squander of other people in order to survive.  I can’t imagine what happened to this man which brought him to such low estate.

It doesn’t take long for Jesus to fall from the weight of the cross.  When he falls the first time, can we imagine his head hitting the pavement or the crown of thorns pushing down and embedding into his head or the welts beginning to rise on the body of Christ?  Are we like spectators at an accident, looking for gore and missing the meaning and the call?

When we fall to the ground under the weight of our crosses, the temptation is to stay down low.  When someone else falls, the temptations is to stare, mock, look the other way, not get involved, or to think that it’s not any of our business.  

When we take the time to notice that we are all on our knees in some way or another, we might see some of the broken pieces of our lives scattered on the ground and how brightly they can shine in the eyes of another when their courage swells.  Dorothy Day once kissed the countenance of a cancerous faced woman.  She said, “When we kiss the face of someone who has fallen, we kiss the face of Christ.”    Do we see the face of Christ revealed in every person standing by our side?

Jesus, the cross you have been carrying is very heavy. You are becoming weak and almost ready to faint, and you fall down. Nobody seems to want to help you.  Sometimes we put things off. Sometimes we give up too easily, and don’t do our work or give other people a chance.  Help us to do our work as well as we can and to finish what we have started. When we fall, help us get up again and keep going.

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