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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Via Dolorosa 5/14…Simon Of Cyrene Helps Jesus To Carry His Cross

The next few days in Lent, we continue to contemplate this journey with Jesus, Who “went out, carrying His cross, to the place called “the place of the skull”, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17). I humbly pray that the contemplation of these solemn steps of Christ’s journey will speak to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scriptural Reading:

“They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.” (Matthew 27:30-32, NAB)

“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NAB)

“Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NAB)

“They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.” (Mark 15: 21, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Jesus dear, after seeing your mother, you continued to carry your own Cross; making the solemn journey of the Cross.  All eyes were on you as the crowd boasts of getting rid of yet another preacher, whose thinking was radically different from their's. 

People came from all across the land to witness this execution.  Nevertheless, most of those who followed you during your ministry, seem to be in hiding.

As you peep through the corner of your bloodied eyes, up the hill, Golgotha came into perspective – the Place of the Skull, they call it.  The soldiers continued to lash at you to the rhythm of the heartless mocking of the crowd. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The weight of the rough edged Cross continuously spike your wounded back.  O, the agony of redeeming mankind.  The price one needs to pay for love…  Blood dripping, your feet trembled, your hands shivering, your back in excruciating pain. 

The soldiers and everyone gathered along the path will never allow you take away their pleasure in seeing you die the ignominious death on the Cross.

Perhaps it was the will of the Father that amongst the crowd was a strong simple man, Simon of Cyrene, who only wanted to pass on by, minding his own business, with his two boys Alexander and Rufus.

He saw the commotion and heard the mocking – he knew the feelings of a father losing a son, he also knew he must shield his two boys from such a cruel act of mankind destroying life. 

Perhaps, he did not know how to explain to them…perhaps, he just does not want to be involved.

A Roman soldier arrogantly picked him out from amongst the crowd and forced him to help Jesus.  “But I was just passing by, sir, on my way home.  Spare me and my children.  I am only a poor farmer.”  Simon was afraid.

Somehow, he found courage and without further reluctance, grumbling or complaining, Simon, left his children, walked up to Jesus.  The look into Jesus’ piercing eyes searched him and stirred restlessness within his heart; he knew Jesus was innocent.

Simon did not understand why the God, the giver of life, who blessed his abundant harvest would allow such cruelty to prevail. 

Yet, he trusted God. Upon the sturdy shoulders from his slogging in the fields, Simon carried the Cross of Our Sins for Jesus uphill.  No words were spoken, simply silence. 

This yoke is surely heavy…

“Come on.  Let’s get on with it.  Crucify Him!”  Simon heard the yelling of the crowd and looked at the bleeding Jesus. Why, my Lord? Why?

Quiet Pondering:

O, Jesus, from amongst so many, you found one righteous man who was willing to embrace the weight of the cross beams with you.

Dear Jesus, like Simon, how often have we been on our own journey home, minding our own business and passed by many, many of such persecutions on the route to Golgotha; it is becoming such a common sight for us in this world! 

As with our daily lives, we just want to pass on by many of such crosses, minding our own business, hoping all would be alright.  How hardened our heart has become, Lord?

Little did we know that, like Simon, God constantly calls us to walk beside Jesus and share the burden of the Cross.  God wants us to see that it is a grace to be able to accompany Jesus on the way of the Cross and to help him.  God wants the silent mystery of the suffering Jesus to touch your heart this Lent.

 Resolve to respond to God’s calling today even when this seems to interfere with your own plans and desires.  Help me to help you carry the cross and walk with you, help me to help others although it might seem difficult for me, help me to realise that I may be the only one amongst the many in the crowd being call forth to experience this grace.

Jesus, melt my heart and teach me to forget myself and remember more of others.  Help me be a voice for those who cannot speak, an eye for those who cannot see, a ear for those who cannot hear; a light in darkness.  By your grace, let me be a heart for those who cannot find love and care in this world.

“One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying.  He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.”

St. Teresa of Avila

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