A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Luke 23:27

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I’ve always loved the tradition of the Stations of the Cross. When I was growing up, my school would gather on Friday mornings to pray them all together, and every Holy Week the moms and daughters on my street would get together and pray a version told from the point of view of Mary. It’s still my favorite version to pray. You can find it here.* During Lent it’s wonderful to get to pray the Stations with my students for many reasons, but probably my top two are that many of my students have never had the experience before and the other is that it adds so much depth to the story of Jesus’s passion.

The fourth station, and also the fourth sorrow of Mary, are not actually found in the Biblical accounts of the Passion of Jesus, but like Veronica and the falls, they add an important element to our understanding of Jesus and his relationships with others. This fourth sorrow shows us a mother who cannot leave her child alone in his suffering.

Compassion means “to suffer with”, which I think accurately shows how a parent or teacher feels about their child suffering. I have seen an incredibly beautiful example of compassion in my sister Kristin and niece. For the past 17 years, Kristin has walked with her daughter along the journey of pediatric brain tumors. She has waited in countless hospitals, raised thousands of dollars for research, advocated for government support of children with tumors and never stopped fighting for a cure for her daughter. She has dealt with the pain of watching helplessly as her child dealt with something so terrible many of us can’t even imagine it. She has met her child on the road to Calvary over and over again, and never lost her faith or love along the way. She truly inspires me.

My prayer today is for all those, who like Mary, are suffering with someone today. For all the parents who watch their children deal with mental and physical illnesses, for all the teachers who see the brokenness in their students and feel helpless to change anything, and for all the caregivers who selflessly suffer with those battling debilitating illness.

Questions for reflection:
How do I meet Christ on the road to Calvary? In my family members? In my students? In my own struggles with addiction or illness?
Is God calling me to “suffer with” someone? How can I reach out to this person today?
How can I support other teachers, moms, caregivers or those who walk with others in their suffering?

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