“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pt 1:3).

 

Is there anything more joyous than to hear, “He is risen!”?

 

What family hasn’t rejoiced when a loved one has healed from a critical illness, returned to life after a battle with depression, a divorce or job loss, or reached significant milestones in addiction recovery?

 

For Christians, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith and the reason for our hope in all things, but in our daily lives, it is the personal deaths and resurrections we experience that challenge our faith and often have the most powerful effect on how we move through life.

 

When we, or our loved ones, rise from the ashes to begin again, we celebrate with joy.

 

But life is difficult and anything but fair. The reality is not every illness results in recovery, not every loss is met with rising to new life. Accidents happen, loved ones die without rhyme or reason, homes are foreclosed, storms of all kinds often wreak havoc in our lives that cannot be overcome.

 

How, then, are we to live the joy and hope of Easter throughout the year when every day seems to weigh us down with struggles and loss?

 

Often, it takes a Simon of Cyrene to help us carry our crosses.

 

In the Gospel of Matthew we read that after Jesus was scourged, mocked, crowned with thorns and beaten around the head with a reed, he was led off to be crucified. “As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.”

 

Scripture is not clear on who Simon really was or what happened to him after the crucifixion, but one author describes him as being “plucked from obscurity by the Roman soldier to come forward to carry Jesus’ cross with him.” He was, he said, “Jesus’ last helper.”

 

Sometimes, like Jesus, we need help, and we are grateful for the person who chooses to walk with us on the road to our own Calvary.

 

Other times, we are called, like Simon, to be the cross-bearer. He entered Jesus’ life for just a brief moment of time, but that didn’t change the magnitude or meaning of his service.

 

It is the same for us. Our sometimes seemingly insignificant attempts to help others carry their crosses are often far more important and fruitful than we know. Our acknowledgement of their struggles; our willingness to listen; our reaching out with emotional, and sometimes, practical, support, tells them they are valuable and reminds them they are children of God.

 

Simon stands as a powerful example of what Jesus wants from us — to be cross-bearers, to live our Easter joy and hope by bringing that joy and hope to others in their times of need.

 

By helping others to carry their crosses in whatever limited way we can, we become what Pope Francis calls us to be: “visible, clear, brilliant signs of hope in world.”

 

Easter people, stay strong through prayer:

“Heavenly father, whose most dear son, as He walked the way of the Cross, accepted the service of Simon of Cyrene to carry His physical burden for Him, grant us each the grace gladly to bear one another’s burdens, for the love of Him who said, ‘As you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,’ your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”

 

— Mary Morrell, Wellspring Communications

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