Monday, March 1, 2010

The Way of the Cross - 5th Station

Jesus Is Helped By Simon

Mt 27:32
As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.

Mt 16:24
Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Simon is someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is compelled; we are told, to carry the cross. He is obviously reluctant to do so. To carry the cross means to share in the shame of it, what might people think? He might be thought of as the one condemned. But, he isn’t like this condemned criminal. He is a good man. Circumstances have overtaken him though and the soldiers force him; he must take up this stranger’s cross and be associated with him. The fact that the gospel’s tell us that he was the father of Rufus and Alexander, presumably two well known persons to the early Christians, probably means that his time carrying the cross of Christ had a profound effect on him and that somewhere along the way he uncovered the truth of this criminal and the truth about who really owned that cross.

What a privilege, was Simon’s. It is a privilege the Blessed Virgin would have dearly loved to have. One can imagine that St. Paul, that great disciple of the Cross, would have longed to have had it. And here was Simon, a reluctant carrier of the Cross. Simon is like so many of us – the Cross is not something we looked for, sometimes not something we expected and it is placed upon us without our consent. It threatens us because it means stepping into the unknown and the risk of losing so much we hold dear.

Simon thought that he was carrying the Cross for Jesus when in fact it was Jesus who was carrying the Cross for him. Lord may we, when confronted by the cross in our lives, take heed of the words of your Apostle Peter: “In so far as you share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, so that you may enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4: 13) For we are sure that if we share your sufferings, if we embrace the crosses in our life, we will share your glory and your joy (cf. Rom 8:17).

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