The Triduum is here. Who are you in the Passion narrative? Each year we likely relate to the characters differently. Some years we commiserate more with Mary; some years, more with Christ. Another year, we see ourselves in the weeping women or St. Veronica. But have you ever seen yourself in St. Simon of Cyrene’s place? I sure hadn’t. This thought came to me during a quiet moment of prayer this Lenten season: just as Simon was asked to help carry the cross of Christ, so, too, are we asked to help our children bear their crosses.
This might not sound all that profound, but for me, it has meant a big change in how I relate to my children. Reflecting on myself as a Simon-figure to my children is a pretty big departure from my normal modus operandi. Usually, I see my children’s behavioral struggles as a point of tension between us. One is whiny and slow to obey. One has temper tantrums and a bad attitude. One is clingy and needy when I need to get things done. Often, their behavior seems like my cross to bear.
But then I heard someone say that when your kids are giving you a hard time, they are really having a hard time. It gave me pause.
I asked one of my beloved children during a behavioral low-point . . . ”Are you having a hard time?”
The question changed the dynamic a bit. No longer his sparring partner, I was now in his corner of the fight. I was on his side. I was lifting his burden a bit.
Yes, he nodded. He was having a hard time.
I can’t remember where we went from there, but I do remember that in asking him the question, I suddenly saw things differently, and so did he. My son wasn’t trying to punish me with his bad behavior. He was struggling to obey. It is a struggle we all face; it is the eternal struggle of will over passions. As his mom, it’s my job to help him figure out how to conquer his passions and choose the good. It isn’t easy.
It wasn’t easy for Simon to help Christ carry his cross either. Chosen out of the crowd, he was probably embarrassed and annoyed. Even if his sympathy for Jesus outweighed these emotions, the experience would have been physically and emotionally taxing. Helping a condemned man carry a heavy cross through crowded streets of malicious, indifferent, or, perhaps, sympathetic people, would have left him exhausted and drained.
As mothers we often feel the same, don’t we? Helping our cranky, emotional, difficult children carry their crosses, overcome their passions, and choose the good is hard work. We often feel exhausted and drained.
But, it’s worth it. Think about the help that St. Simon was to Christ. Think about the heavy burden that was made lighter by a friend. Whose burden can we help lift? Our children’s? Our husband’s? Our friend’s?
This Triduum, let us see our sparring partners as people who need their burden lifted. Let us see Christ in our children and all of those closest to us. Let us help lift their burdens. Let us be St. Simon to them.