Editor’s note: Contemplating the Eighth Station of the Cross, Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on the power of following Jesus’ example in being present to those who are suffering.

“Were You There?”

This is a question that I frequently find myself reflecting on. One of the things I strive for on mission is to be present to the students and administrators here at the college. Especially in a small community like Carmen Pampa, presence speaks volumes. It doesn’t matter if you don’t talk much, or if the “event” isn’t even really an event per se—people notice when you are with them, and they notice when you are gone.

As I reflect on the different Stations of the Cross in preparation for Lent, I find myself identifying with the Eighth Station, where Jesus encounters the weeping women of Jerusalem. Last semester brought many challenges, frustrations, and tragedies during my time on mission. And the worst part of it all was that I was powerless to do anything. Sometimes you look around at the people you love and care about, and you just wish that you could take their pain away. But of course, life is not that easy, and you simply can’t.

I certainly felt overwhelmed by injustice as our community dealt with a terrible assault and an all-too-early death. “Was I there?” Yes, I was there. I was there to offer a helping hand or a listening ear. And I was there, praying in the chapel for the people whose lives were changed forever.

What are we to do in the face of such suffering? When I first arrived at FMS for formation, I remember flipping through a survey book of questions answered by previous missioners. I still remember one quote to this day. It said that sometimes on mission, you will bear witness to intense suffering, and the only thing you can do is stand at the foot of the cross with those who suffer.

Isn’t that powerful? You can’t take away anyone’s suffering, but you can be present to them in their time of need. You can make sure they don’t face it alone.

As I reflect on the Eighth Station of the Cross, I think that is exactly what Jesus did. He saw the women weeping on the road and—even going through as much as he was—he stopped to console them.

Jesus is always with us, even when we are at our lowest, loneliest point. He is there, calling us to come back to Him, to talk to Him, to consult Him. Remembering that has brought me much comfort as I prepare for the upcoming semester.

Reflection Question: When has someone acted as Jesus to you and consoled you in your grief? How can you follow Jesus’ example and be present to others in their need?