By Mariah Mulderink
Trapped Under a Lot of Weight
When I was about 13 years old, I started going to the gym with my dad. He taught me how to lift weights and would walk me through workouts until I started to get the hang of it. I really grew to like our workouts and was very pleased with their impact on my athletic performance. As time went on, my dad and I started doing our own workouts when we went to the gym. He might go run while I do weights. Usually though, I would call him over when it was time for my bench press so that he could spot me. Well, one day I decided I would just go for it. I felt pretty confident and wasn’t planning to add more weight than I had benched last time. I finished my first two sets and started into my third. Just like my dad taught me, I pushed myself to the max. However, about five reps in, I got stuck. The weight of the bar planted itself on top of me. Shockingly, there was no one else in the weight room, so I laid there for a minute just flailing around like a bug stuck on its back. The bar was far too heavy for me to get out from under it. Because of the clamps on either side of the weights, there was no way for me to tip off the extra weight. I yelled for my dad. He came running and immediately helped me lift the heavy weight off of me. After taking a few deep breaths, I laughed at the absurdity of what had just happened. However, as funny as that was, I hated the feeling of being stuck under all that weight. It was a very odd and fairly unpleasant sensation to realize that I could not get this weight off me. Why did I share this story? Because we are going to contemplate the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery - Jesus Carries His Cross. We are contemplating the weight of the cross.
The Weight of the Cross
Have you ever stopped and wondered, “How much did the cross weigh?” Well, there are no definitive numbers, but historians estimate that the entire cross must have weighed around 300 lbs. The cross beam is estimated to have weighed 70-90 lbs. So with that in mind, let’s dig into the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.
Christ has been beaten, scourged, mocked, crowned with thorns, and with all of that has probably neither slept nor ate in the last 12 plus hours. He is probably already close to death when He is condemned to death by crucifixion. Because of the wounds already inflicted on Him, Christ would probably have had difficulty moving without excruciating pain. And then He is given a cross to carry. We can’t be sure whether He was only given the crossbeam to carry or the entire cross, but any weight would have felt impossible for Him to carry in that kind of condition. However, Christ embraces His cross and begins the journey to Calvary. The walk (now called the Via Dolorosa or “the sorrowful path”) is about a third of a mile. This may not sound like a very long distance, but recall the condition Christ was in; recall the mob that was pressing in on him; recall the Roman soldiers that continued to push him and beat Him along the way. We can’t be sure when Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Christ carry His cross, but regardless, we can be certain that this journey to the cross was not an easy one. Christ fell three times on the way. He didn’t fall because He tripped. Christ fell because He was dying and His body had been weakened by torture. Can you imagine how badly the impact rattled His body? Can you imagine the pain of His fall and then the added pain of the cross on top of Him?
What Other Weight Did Christ Carry?
We have imagined the scene. We have talked about the physical elements. Let us switch to the spiritual. I want you to imagine the weight of your sins. I know that for myself, there have been times in my life where the weight of my sin felt like it was crushing me. Take the weight of your sin and multiply it by a few billion...Christ carried that weight.
We look at the suffering Christ endured. We look at the cross He carried and we might think, “Isn’t that enough?!” No. Christ carried the physical cross, but He also carried the weight of all of our sins. He did that so we could be saved. He did that so we could be in Heaven with Him someday.
Do We Carry Our Own Weight?
Let’s think back to when I got stuck under the bar while doing my bench press. The weight was far too heavy for me to lift it off by myself. Such is the weight of our sins. There was no way that humanity could win its own salvation. We could not save ourselves. God had to save us. However, that wasn’t the end, right? We still sin. We still suffer. But because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can be redeemed by that suffering. Our sins can be forgiven. We can pick up our own crosses and follow Christ. By the grace of Christ this is possible. Do not forget that! We still can’t save ourselves. Our ability to carry our crosses is not simply up to our own wills. We must seek the grace of Christ. Trying to get to Heaven without Christ is like me trying to lift that bar off of myself. When we receive the grace of Christ, it is like my dad helping me lift off that heavy weight. There is still weight for us to carry, but by Christ’s grace, we can now carry it.
Embrace the Weight of the Cross
This is not easy to do. It isn’t natural to embrace suffering. So what if I told you that we shouldn’t just embrace our crosses, but we should also be grateful for them? You might think I’m crazy, but let me explain. We ought to be grateful for our crosses because their weight is only a fraction of the actual weight of our sins. Through Christ’s sacrifice, what we have to carry is so small. This is not meant to diminish your suffering or make light of the weight you carry. No, what I am trying to point out is that even in our suffering, we can see the love of Christ. My burden is not so heavy because of Christ’s love. The weight of my sins does not crush me because Christ allowed them to crush Him first. So, embrace the weight of your cross. You do not have to like it. You do not have to want it. But please embrace it and recall the love with which Christ carried THE CROSS and the weight of all our sin.
Continue to join us each week as we work our way through each of the sorrowful mysteries. Catch up here. We hope that it will help you in your contemplation each day as you pray the Rosary. Please also, take a moment to check out some of our other resources to aid you in your devotion to the Rosary.
Are you an audio type person? Download our Audio Rosary - Sorrowful Mysteries at no cost.
If you are frequently on the go and just can’t find the 20 minutes you need to pray your rosary, our Rosary Bracelets are perfect for you. Having the rosary on your wrist throughout your day makes it accessible and a great reminder. The removable crucifix charm will also help you keep track of where you are in your Rosary so that you can stop and go as often as you need.
Want to help your children learn the Sorrowful Mysteries and contemplate them in a very accessible way? Check out our FREE downloadable coloring sheets featuring the Sorrowful Mysteries.
Mariah Mulderink is wife, mom, Masters in Theology student, and marketing director for Chews Life. Her greatest joys are her faith, her family, her friends, and any chance to be competitive. For her, one of the greatest privileges she has received is the opportunity to pursue her Masters in Theology. Studying the faith is not only fascinating but is also a beautiful way to know God better. She hopes her studies and her faith will always equip her to share Christ in her work and with every person she meets.
You can find out more about her here.