The Fifth Station - Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

AP Photo / Laura Rauch

We gratefully remember and praise you, Jesus,
because your life teaches us how to live as your disciples.

Simon of Cyrene had been merely an observer of your humiliating downfall, Jesus. Out of curiosity he joined the crowd, which had declared you an enemy of the status quo. He was pressed into assisting you because he stood out as swarthy and strong, as an ideal candidate to help you, Jesus, as you stumbled under the awkward and clumsy instrument of your looming execution. You welcomed his company as much as his aid.

There are times when we are forced into situations, which become graced opportunities of service. Up until that moment, we cringe from becoming involved in someone else’s project, problem, or mishap. We need not be forced or urged into tending to wounded and maimed veterans returning from a war zone. The Gospel requires that we respond – while never burdening them with negative judgments about their participation in the war. Life will take on a luster and value it never had before because another’s cross-bearing is shared and alleviated.
Jesus Suarez del Solar was killed in Iraq on March 27, 2004. On March 12, his father, Fernando Suarez del Solar, began a 241 mile march that traced the life and passion of his son, Jesus, from Tijuana to Camp Pendleton. From there Fernando will continue, where his son left off, and walk in the footsteps of the Cesar Chavez-led march from Delano to Sacramento. The march will end on the anniversary of the death of Jesus, when his father plans to lead a blood drive for those in need in Iraq.