How helpless Mary must have felt, Jesus, seeing you in your terrible agony. When you encountered your mother on your journey, how your heart must have broken with the need to comfort her, to tell her that all would be well.
And Mary, as your mother, must have been dying inside to see you in so much pain, knowing that she was helpless to do anything but watch from a boundary.
My family and my friends, the people I love, know something of Mary’s despair. They feel helpless, angry, frustrated. They want to make my trouble ‘go away’ and they cannot. But they are with me as best they can be.
As for me, I know something of your heartbreak, because I an see those I love living with questions. I can love them in their pain, but I cannot simply step off this path and stop this process, just as you could not, for my sake, stop your walk.
Help me to comfort them by staying faithful to you. Help me to say to those I love, “Be not afraid; all well be well,” and to take heart from their love.
The angel replied, I will complete the journey with [your child]. Do not be afraid. On the journey outward all will be well; on the journey back all will be well; the road is safe.” (Tobit 5:20)
Jesus, we don’t know much about your helper, Simon. We know he was a country man walking by, and that he was himself the father of two sons. We hear that he was ‘enlisted as he passed by,’ (Mark 15:21) but might not he have been called over because of his interest?
Perhaps, seeing you struggling, he thought of how grateful he would be to anyone who would help his own sons, were they in trouble.
Perhaps he saw the exchange of looks between you and your mother, and knew he must help.
All we know is this: a stranger took part of your burden and made it his own, walking with you, surrounded by the jeering, the curious, the helpless, the indifferent. He lightened the load so that you might maintain your dignity. You could feel the relief in your body, in your back, and in your knees.
How grateful you must have been for this help.
Help me to show gratitude and appreciation to the people who are helping me — pastorally, physically, and emotionally. Like Simon, they are generous in their help.
Like you, let me never be outdone in generosity of spirit.
They that have hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint… One [person] helps another, one says to the other, ‘Keep on!’ (Isaiah 40-31; 41:6)
Jesus, the tradition handed down to us teaches that during your via dolorosa a woman broke from the crowd of onlookers and brought you a small measure of comfort, wiping your bruised and blood face. Who was this person? Some say she was the hemorrhagic woman who was cured when she touched your robes. (Mark 5:29)
We’re told that in gratitude for her kindness you made a gift to her, imprinting your face upon her veil. Over time, with veneration, the vera icon or true image, came to be called ‘Veronica’s veil’. Although there are tales of this icon traveling as far as Rome, but do we know this with absolute certainty? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. The story itself reminds us that we are often the beneficiaries of humble, simple consolations — by a nurse who bathes a feverish brow, a stranger who stops to give a positive word, a neighbor who brings refreshment at an unexpected moment.
I, too, have been shown kindness by strangers and by people on the periphery — those who reside on the crowded edge of my senses.
Make me more aware of, and more grateful for, the small kindnesses shown to me, Jesus. When someone has been a blessing to me, help me remember to bless them in return. Help me to be more aware of the little things that come my way and keep me going, so that I might be more mindful of my own chances to do something small and good. Help me to, as Mother Teresa said, ‘Do small things with great love.’
I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples. (John 13:34-35)