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A Beacon Of Light… The Weight Of Humanity Causes Jesus To Collapse

February 23, 2021 Frontpage No Comments

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON JR.

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

  • + + As we continue our Lenten journey together to Calvary, this week we will reflect on the Third, Seventh, and Ninth Stations of the Cross. Having accepted condemnation and accepted the responsibility to carry the cross, these stations collectively represent the fall of Jesus. After being scourged and having received the crown of thorns, Jesus began the journey to His crucifixion.
    Three times, the weight of humanity caused Jesus to collapse. Imagine, Jesus was carrying the consequences of the fall in the Garden of Eden, the corruption of sin, and the weight of our redemption upon His shoulders. Any one of us, if even attempting to carry all of this, wouldn’t even be able to walk five steps. And yet Jesus perseveres, weak, sweating, bleeding, feeling the pain of the scourging with every step. Despite these struggles, Jesus never gave up on us!
    The three falls of Jesus can be compared to the times we fall under the weight of the crosses we carry in life. When I was a child my mother would always discipline our misbehavior by offering us three chances to make things right. If we didn’t comply, it was either off to bed or sitting in the corner. These punishments were an occasion for reflection on our bad actions.
    What if we looked at the three falls, under the weight of our cross, as three chances to grow in knowing ourselves better? How can we do this?
    Throughout our lives we experience moments of grace. These moments of grace are given to us by the Lord to assist us in our journey of faith. Often in carrying our cross, we fail to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord. It is in these times that we stumble and fall.
    Let’s say someone is inclined to a particular sin or action, like stealing. And let’s say it is very easy for this person to fall into this sin. He tries so hard day after day, week after week, but one day succumbs to temptation and steals a candy bar from the local variety store. The temptation was too strong, and the weight of the cross was so heavy that he fell.
    This could be considered a moment of grace because it was a reminder to the person of his struggle. Soon he receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation and make restitution and begins again. The First Fall!
    Weeks go by and even months, and one day the person is in Walmart shopping and sees an amazing television he would like to have. He keeps walking around, back and forth, looking at it. Soon he can’t keep his eyes off it. He feels the temptation well up within, and he steals the television. His affinity to stealing has increased. His cross has gotten heavier to carry. This time he falls a lot harder. The weight of his sinfulness has increased. No longer is he stealing just a candy bar, but something larger. The risk has increased and so have the consequences.
    What if he gets caught? The young man again is reminded of the need to be strong and resolute. The Second Fall!
    A few years go by and the young man has been doing good. He has not stolen; in fact, he has worked on dealing with the heaviness of his cross. Things seem to be going so well. One day everything changes, and the young man finds himself entangled with the wrong crowd.
    The scenario has changed, however, because he has added drugs to the equation. The cross he has been carrying has not only gotten heavier, but has now gotten more dangerous. The temptation has grown because the Evil One has worked tirelessly to confuse the poor young man. One day the young man, overcome by the hallucinations caused by his added drug use, breaks into a house. This break-in was to steal money and jewelry to fund his new drug habit.
    Sadly, the young man fails to recognize that the house was not empty. As he attempts to steal, the homeowner comes in and fearing for his life, shoots the intruder. The young man, not hurt too seriously, falls to the ground, and is soon apprehended by the local authorities. He is arraigned and sentenced to seven years in prison. He tried so hard to carry the cross, but this time it was too much, and his life would change forever. The Third Fall!

Created In His Image

In the example presented above, we see how sin and temptation can become increasingly more difficult. The young man is but one person. This may seem like a singular example, but what if we multiplied that singular example by the 7.6 billion people on Earth now? This doesn’t even consider all the deceased. This one example is transformed into all the crosses ever carried in the history of salvation. Why is this important? This is very important because it reminds us that the cross Jesus was carrying is nothing like our own. His was enormous!
As Jesus begins carrying the cross, it doesn’t seem too difficult. Soon 7.6 billion people sin. Like Adam and Eve, human beings begin turning their backs on God. They become attached to the world and forget that they are attached to God. He created us in His own image and likeness, with the fundamental purpose to love Him.
The weight is overwhelming, and Jesus falls the first time.
Jesus continues on the journey.to Calvary. Later along the way, humanity sins again, but this time the sin increases. It’s not just that we have turned against God, but we have turned against each other. Envy, jealousy, and pride cause us to make the cross of Christ even heavier. As Jesus carries the cross, He is aware of our actions and His heart breaks. He cannot believe the turn of events.
So laden with sadness and hurt, He falls a second time. This time the fall is different.
The weight is almost impossible because creation has turned against itself. What was considered “very good” was now the cause of immense agony! The second fall!
Again Jesus summons the strength to continue. He must finish the work of His Father. He must redeem us! He is almost there, but something stops Him in His tracks, and He falls the third time. He cannot believe it! Not only has humanity turned its back on God and on each other. Now, people have begun to kill the most innocent among us.
The final blow has been given; Jesus cannot take it anymore. The selfish and hideous murdering of the precious unborn — the weight is too much! How can this be? And yet it has become commonplace in our society. Is there no guilt or remorse? The third and final fall!

May I Never Offend You Again!

Having reflected on the Third, Seventh, and Ninth Stations of the Cross, we find ourselves at a loss for words. We have seen how our sinful actions are not only part of the weight of our own cross, but how they also contributed to the weight of Jesus’ cross. Our cross weighs nothing like Jesus’; and yet, how many times do we complain about our struggles in life? Jesus was saving creation; Jesus was saving us!
In closing, I offer the prayer from the Stations of the Cross attributed to St. Alphonsus Liguori:
“My beloved Jesus, it was not the weight of the cross but the weight of my sins which made you suffer so much. By the merits of this first fall, save me from falling into mortal sin. I love You, O my Jesus, with all my heart; I am sorry that I have offended you. May I never offend you again! / Grant that I may love you always; and then do with me as you will.”

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