Settle into your comfy chair, light a candle, and invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into this time.
“ As they were going out, they found Simon, a man from Cyrene. They forced him to carry his cross.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”
This is the last day for our reflection on life with Christ through the object of shoes.
Simon of Cyrene is an African, coming from Cyrene, which is in Libya. We don’t have any idea what he’s doing in Jerusalem; he just seems to be there, possibly working in the fields. We don’t even know if he is Jewish. But he happens upon this sad procession of those condemned to die on a cross. Jesus was one of them, broken by the weight of his cross. He couldn’t go any further. I imagine the soldiers to be impatient and wanting to get to their destination, so Simon is forced by the soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross. How humiliating!! No one would want to be seen carrying a Roman cross for any reason. Questions come up about Simon. Why is he on the Via Dolorosa? I would imagine he is asking himself why is he being brought into this? After all he seems to be minding his own business. I would say he doesn’t want to be anywhere near condemned men or be involved at all. But he does what he is forced to do. He takes Jesus’ cross and carries it to the place of crucifixion.
5th Stations of the Cross, Simon of Cyrene carries the cross, Church of the Holy Trinity in Gemunden am Main, Bavaria, Germany
The Cyrenian walking beside Jesus was transformed as he shared the burden of the Cross. Simon went from being someone who walked on the periphery of the community to become one who walked in Jesus’ shoes. He suffered along with God!! Who else can say that? Simon was changed… this chance encounter proved to be a life-changing experience. Walking in Jesus’ shoes means that Simon’s life would never be the same. Nor would it be the same for his family. If you look at Mark 15:21 you’ll notice that not only is Simon named, but also his children, who were very well known as Christians and members of The Way. Their names were Alexander and Rufus. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched Simon’s heart. He walked in the shoes of the one whose divine love alone redeems all of humanity. Jesus wants us to walk in his shoes, sharing his cross so we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering. (Col 1:24). Whenever we show kindness to those who suffer, those who are persecuted, defenseless and marginalized, we share in their sufferings, and help carry that same cross of Jesus. In this way, we share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
- How does Simon’s story relate to your journey?
- If you put yourself into the story and was asked to carry Jesus’ cross, what would your response be?
- Are you annoyed when asked to move outside your comfort zone to become more involved in service to others?
- How does Simon’s story encourage you to discover ways that you are being called by Jesus to become a more cherished member of the beloved community?
Lord, you opened Simon’s eyes and heart as he shared your journey to crucifixion. He received faith that was also extended to his family. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves and come to their aid, even when it is inconvenient for us. Help us realize it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others, knowing that we are walking in your shoes and you in ours as we show up. Help us to appreciate with joy that when we share in your suffering and the suffering of others, we are helping to build up your body, the church.