In the traditional Stations of the Cross written by St. Alphonsus Liguori, Jesus falls three times as he carries his Cross on the road to Calvary. It’s a brutal, painful scene to contemplate. Jesus, exhausted from the betrayal and battering, the torture and trials he has suffered, is forced to carry the heavy cross, the instrument of his own death, through a hateful, jeering crowd, to the place of his public execution. Each time he fell, he was even weaker, drained of strength. How much pain he must have felt, crushed to the ground with the weight of the Cross landing on his bruised and broken body.
And yet, Jesus didn’t stay down. When he fell, Jesus got up again and continued the sacred journey, the journey that would lead to his death, yes, but also to his ultimate vindication and glory. Jesus knew that he had to continue walking the via dolorosa to fulfill his Father’s will; he knew he had to press on because the salvation of the world depended on the faithful completion of his mission.
What a lesson Jesus gave us as he carried the Cross to Calvary, as he got up with courage and determination after each of his falls! And the lesson is this: in our striving for peace and perfection, in our desire to complete our mission on earth, whenever we fall, we can’t stay down. We need to stand up, confront our challenges, and keep walking the path of life.
And how often we do fall! Our falls come in many forms. Perhaps it’s when we fail repeatedly in our intense battle to overcome a destructive addiction. Perhaps it’s our unwillingness to break-off an improper relationship that’s contrary to our vocation. Perhaps it’s an unhealthy pursuit of control, power or wealth that leads us down unrighteous paths. Perhaps it’s our struggle to rise above the presumption, apathy and laziness that keep us from living our faith.
You see, as often as you and I fall, the worst thing we can do is to get discouraged, give up, and stop walking. Then we lie on the road, wallowing in defeat and self-pity. Then we fail to grow, as children of God and disciples of Christ. Then we fail to reach the final destination of glory that God has waiting for us.
Something to think about: When you fall, don’t quit. Follow the example of Jesus. Get up and start walking again.